joi, 21 decembrie 2023

Wonka (2023)

Wonka is the prequel to Roald Dahl's children classic book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) -back then, when the children fares were bleak and dark and scary, which was cool;). Shamefully, no book by Dahl was ever published in communist Romania. I first hear about him as a screenwiter of Bond (You Only Live Twice) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

The first film version of the book (which is huge in the world and especilly Anglo-Saxon culture) was called differently, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, directed by Mel Stuart), with a brilliant Gene Wilder in one of his most beloved parts. Nice songs and dwarves dressed as Oompa Lumpas, but cheesy set design and so so production values and direction. More like a darker Disney childern film of that age.

I guess you have to grow up with the Oompa Loompas, which we didn't. So we just saw that 1971 film because a new version was coming out in 2005, the weirdly creepy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Tim Burton, with scary score by Danny Elfman and a Marilyn Manson inspired weird-o performance by Johnny Depp.  Freaky and all-in-all a curio misfire.

So the idea of a prequel isn't bad, because it's explained in the book how Wonka was betrayed before by everybody and sacked finally all his workers and from then on he became a recluse and a mystery. Sort of like Howard Hughes ;). I liked specially the idea of the secret Willy's mother kept, 'cos that reflects a secret my father taught me in my childhood.

But the bet standing was to find an actor to be able to stand tall compared to Wilder and Depp and so, Timothee Chalamet was a risky bet but it works. Actually for me it is the 1st time I'm really liking the guy. The director and his vision was also a tricky choice. So, Paul King, the name didn't ring any bell to me. The director of Paddington and Paddington 2, two children films I haven't seen but I heard are very good. Though, something attracted me to Wonka. Might be the chocolate....

Another asset is Hugh Grant, as Lofty, the resourceful Oompa Lumpa, somehow Grant which I couldn't stand in his Rom Com nice boy days I like a lot these days, especially in his collaborations with Guy Ritchie in which he parodies himself silly (The Gentlemen, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre). he came here via Paddington 2, in which he partook.

Good, inspired music by Jody Talbot and Neil Hannon, the guys from the band The Divine Comedy, Chalamet has a good voice and songs and cues are taken from the 1971 film (the Oompa Loompa song, Pure Imagination, etc.). A lot of the score sounded to me like Alexandre Desplat's music for Grand Budapest Hotel, or in that direction. 

Very good choreography and production values a sure plus. The budget sure helps, this is an 125 million $ production, the 1971 film cost then were 3 million $, even compared with inflation it's ten times more, heck of a budget. How many zillions of chocolates it that?

3 1/2 out of 5, 7 out of 10 !

luni, 18 decembrie 2023

LMA Keef @80 !!!

So Many Many how Many Returns, it's a historical day, one for them His Story books...

from now he is Eighty, mr. Keith Richards... the Human Riff, the X-pensive Wino, the Main Offender, the most original Pirate of Rock n Roll...

Do ya think it's a miracle?  Neh, he's  the man with five strings and nine lives. Maybe Ten. But I'm sure it goes to Eleven ;)

A proof of LIFE, indeed (in deed?), Charlie Watts got to enjoy only two months of his eighties so...think back at Brian Jones who only got 27 years to breathe :( , Lennon got shot at Forty, he would've been 83 now...Bobby Keys, who was born same day as Keith and was his best buddy in the band, died at 70 !, and Robbie Robertson, got to enjoy a month of his Eighties, just after completed his best soundtrack ever, for Killers of the Flower Moon...

so, Happy 4 ya, Keef !!!  

see here what I wished him at 70 !

Also the new RS record, Hackney Diamonds is imo the album of the year ! 

The Stones I've seen Seven times over four decades and six different countries, and yes, now I have the feeling I might see them one more time...

Wicked As it Seems, yeah ;)

                                                  Chapeau ? Mais, oui ;)

‘I gave up cigarettes in 2019, heroin in 1978, cocaine in 2006... but I still like a drink’ (Keef)

...we're sympathising, will have one (or how many?) for you 2 day, my oh's also my 3000th post, man, Three Thousand Posts of Longing ;)
I took out the records, TALK is CHEAP.... ;)

duminică, 17 decembrie 2023

Napoleon (2023)

 work in progress...or regress...

cos' so many asked me about this, and if i liked it, or is it good, and why this and that...

Well, as far as it goes, for me it was the biggest disappointment of 2023 (see my faved here).

Some expected this like the 2nd coming, I gave up on sir Rid some time ago (last cool one was The Counselor and that was 10 years ago...), I have huge reservations on Alien: Covenant which I appreciated then, as I did with the beginning of Raised by Wolves series, and tahn he killed it, he self-imploded his best films with adding crap to their coda-Blade Runner and Alien that is...I hope he won't f**k up the Gladiator thing too...well, which Gladiator, aha, aka The son of Maxxxximussss...

well, the main problem isn't dramaturgy as some say, or the timing (and I am very sure a 4 hour length won't improve it..) but the casting of  mr. Joaquin "joker" Phoenix as Nap B., in a cross between his Commodus (from 2000's Gladiator) and Joker (2019). An Emo Napoleon ? you got one....Napoleon is Afraid ;)

Ok, now 3 Oscar nods, for set, visual f/x and biggie
I liked the music (by Martin Phipps, newcomer on Sir Rid's team) much better than on the last Ridley Scott films, and that was its best asset. 
No performances, no nothing. I started to write about it in Romanian and was kinda mean to it. made me see again WATERLOO (1970), which I saw as a kid on the big screen and was uber-impressed and I gotta acknowledge again that it's such a better film still. And Rod Steiger rulezzz, and he's the man.

also there's the Stanley Kubrick paradoxxx-because Waterloo was a flop Kubrick did not get to do his Napoleon. And that is a pity. Nap B. was to be played by Jack Nicholson. Yes. And they were supposed to shoot in Romania, 'cos we got em horses and costumes. Didn't happen. Kubrick did Brry Lyndon instead, giving Ryan O'Neal a life eternally. 

I have butto see the 5h30 restored cut to see of Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927).  They worked 30 years to redo that. And the original cut was 7 hours. So, even at 4 hours, a Scott Director's cut I guess it won't change the cue too much.

Boy and the Heron, The (2023)

The Boy and the Heron / Kimitachi wa dô ikiru ka /Baiatul și stârcul/ is playing in Romanian theaters (distributor's communique here) .  Amazingly. I guess it's a also the first film by Hayao Miyazaki to play here (well, Ponyo played also in theaters). I saw it (in Japanese, with Romanian subtitles) on Friday, opening night and was enchanted & mesmerized.

The other one I saw on a cinema was Spirited Away / Chichujiro at a festival I guess, in Elvira Popescu in Bucharest.  But his films are avaliable to stream on Netflix, also in the subtitled Japanese version, not dubbed in English, from Porco Rosso to Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, Nausicaa, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo to Spirited Away, his best film imo, and The Wind Rises, his last film up to Heron, in 2013. I mean it's a golden treasure, espcially for those who looked for these films years and years, before streaming and internet downloads.

Heron it's one of this year best films, best soundtracks (beautiful score by Joe Hisaishi, legendary Japanese composer which I personally know from Takeshi Kitano in the early 90's), and it will win the Oscar for animation for sure. And the Golden Globe. But more so, it's one of Miyazaki's forte, his comeback after 10 years, at 82. He could only animate about one minute of film per month so the work on the film took more than 5 years (he started it in 2016). A very sensible film, hand-drawn as all Ghibli films, and Japan's most expensive film to date. Also a world box office record.

I empathize all these facts because I was amazed of how many people who like films haven't heard of him and/or don't wanna go see this cos it's an animee. Get a grip and get to the cinema ! Then talk to me. ok?
The Japanese title// Kimitachi wa dô ikiru ka / (translated as "How Do You Live?") is the same as a 1937 novel by Genzaburô Yoshino, writer of children's literature, the book has significant meaning for the main character in the film.

sâmbătă, 9 decembrie 2023

RIP Ryan O'Neal

Ryan O'Neal is gone, he died on December 8th 2023 in Santa Monica. He was 82...

His only Oscar nomination was for Love Story (1970). 

Though all his other parts were better, this was what the audiences identified him with. His problem was he was too beautiful and charismatic and also maybe didn't improve in the acting domain (like Redford did, or go into directing, etc), Maybe he should've.

Wild Rovers

What's Up, Doc?

Paper Moon


The Driver

Barry Lyndon

A Bridge Too Far

All great parts and classics of the Seventies. Except maybe, The Thief Who came to Dinner (1973). The computer subject is too over dated 2day.  He ended his most brilliant decade with Oliver's Story, a maligned sequel to Love Story in 1979. 

I guess O'Neal was thinking, especially after the flops of Barry Lyndon, The Driver and Nickelodeon, "why bother?". A Bridge Too Far / Un pod prea indepartat (1977) was at the time the most expensive film ever made and when it came out, no one wanted to see it. Maybe it made its money back by today, great war flick anyway, I was too young when It played in theaters, or something, I missed it 'til DVD dayz (& nights). Well, Wild Rovers in 1971 a beautiful elegiac western by Blake Edwards, was also a flop, due to the downbeat ending, and the timing of the release. I was amazed when I finally saw in on TNT in gorgeous widescreen. You can see it all on youtube, great copy)

First time I saw him on the big screen in The Main Event (, 1979), which reunited him with Barbra Streisand for a minor comedy after their uber hit What's Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972). Also ca$h in was the Romanian title, Love story pe ring !!! Ryan plays a washed-up boxer, and that's whht he was before he became an  Actor.

Also with Bogdanovich he did Paper Moon (1973), where he acted along his daughter, Tatum O'Neal, who won an Oscar for Supporting Actress, at 10 being the youngest person to do so in the history of films, and Nickelodeon (1976), a misfire at the time, but that today seems intimate arthouse fare compared to a film like Babylon (2022). And of course his part for Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975), a flop then, and today considered one of the best films ever made. full point, and my soft spot, The Driver, the existentialist neo-noir by Walter Hill (1978).

Unfortunately the Eighties were not his decade, he had a troubled life and later career. Green Ice (Gheata verde), a minor film he did in 1981 was a recrudescent entry in Romanian Theaters in the Eighties. I mean, they played it all the time... and it was a mediocre film. Totally forgetabble. I rememeber it so well cos I had to see it too many times and even I wrote my first piece of published film critism on that (compared with Tarkovski's Stalker !!!, yep, published in the local newspaper, "Drum Nou" (New Road) in 1998, thanks dad, well, it was for mom, named in the piece as a lady who likes "nice films" and "nice scenery". My critique on her kalofilia....The Main Event also I saw with mom and dad at the Popular Cinema in Brasov, I remember, it was an after ski event, came from the ski directly to the theatre 'cos my dad knew the manager (Mrs. Nicolau, and she helped me 5-6 years later to start presenting films there, oh boy was I shy, but did it did me good....), and we left the skis and sticks in the cloak room, and afterwards left on Dupa Ziduri (after the Walls). I mean, we did that a lot (House Calls and Goodbye Girl were other Romantic comedies fares we saw there that way). 
But really, going back to Ryan, if you wanna see a UFO, i mean, outthere in the woods (lost), see Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987), A Cannon fodder entry, directed (?) by Norman Mailer, based on his novel. Well, I just saw it now again (it's also on youtube), and well, it's totally worth a new look.

More Ryan recent fares were mostly cameos, the producer in Burn, Hollywood, Burn: An Alan Smithee Film! (1987), oy, oy, the tycoon in Zero Effect (1998), whoever in People I Know (2002), yes, that was the name for all of that, played in theaters no less. The last time I saw him in The Knight of Cups (2015), Malick's maliquesque -read:[most self indulgent], where he is basically himeslf. If you wanna check his blink-and-miss scenes, the film is now on HBO Max.

vineri, 8 decembrie 2023

RIP Denny Laine

Denny Laine, guitarist, vocalist, bass player, keyboardist and harmonica man, co-founder of WINGS with Paul McCartney and co-founder  of The Moody Blues died on December 5th 2023 in Naples, Florida. He got to 79 on October 29th (was born in 1944 in Portsmouth, England) :(((

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues in 2018.

He also played with Ginger Baker's Air Force. 

-Article on MSN here

I know him from childhood one of of my favourite records (on vinyl no less ;) was BAND ON THE RUN (1973), with that most iconic cover, "the great escape", where Macca, Linda and Denny are featured along James Coburn, Christopher Lee et more. Denny is the one kneeling.

"Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)" "Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can't drink anymore

vineri, 1 decembrie 2023

Bruce Dickinson-Afterglow of Raganarok (SOTD)

"Morte capti, non carcere". 


The Mandrake Project is the new ambitious concept-project of Bruce Dickinson, his 7th solo album (7th Son...?). The album will come out March 1st 2024. Complete with a comic book that helps tell his H.P. Lovecraft-esque story. 

Here is the 1st video, Afterglow of Raganarok, directed by Ryan Mackfall and Produced by

The video begins with a William Blake quote: "I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare, my business is to create."

IMO it's a very ambitious epic story told without the means of enough budget and the right sf/x. As The Chemical Wedding film was, we'll see if it ups up.

The story is described as: "dark, adult story of power, abuse and a struggle for identity, set against the backdrop of scientific and occult genius."

Bruce Dickinson will present the album The Mandrake Project LIVE in Bucharest, Romania, at Arenele Romane, June 3d 2024.

tickets here.

#brucedickinson #themandrakeproject

2nd song & video, Blood on the Graves, came out Jan. 24th 2024.

To Be Continued...

Furiosa (2024)


The prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road and the spin-off just got a date and a trailer, that looks amazing. 

George Miller is back at what he does best, after his Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) being not so longed for. 

I like he's named "Mastermind" in the promotion for the film.  It seems that the budget of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was over 200 mill,. $ and it was shot again in Australia, the biggest production there ever. Warner Bros. distribute. Tom Holkenborg scores again. Chris Hemsworth is the baddie, aptly named Dementus, there will be more of Rictus Erectus, Immortan Joe, The Organic Mechanic and the War boy. Let's see what joy can Anya Taylor-Joy (pun intended;) can bring to the character. After all, she was a Witch, a Norse, android Morgan, mutant Magik and on the Menu...the gambit chess series I did not see.

I bet the film will open Out of Competition at next Cannes Film Festival. In Australia it opens May 23 2024, in the US on May 24th. I guess Romania will join the list. 

                                                     Le trailer, out on Dec. 1st -Oh, What a Lovely Day (redux) !!!!

joi, 30 noiembrie 2023

RIP Shane MacGowan

He did his share, my share, your share, everyone 's share....Shane, Shane, Shane...

Shane MacGowan dead at 65...his last years were tough as his health was in tatters...I saw him in Dublin in June 2019 when The Pretenders opened for Fleetwood Mac and Chrissie Hynde brought him on stage to do an emotional upbeat cover of "I Got You, Babe" with Shane. He was in a wheelchair :(, touching moment that now has a totally different value...(u can see the video here )

Shane was the lead of Irish Celtic punk band The Pogues. Just to be clear.... Founded in King's Cross, London, in 1982, as Pogue Mahone – an anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic phrase póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse".

Amazingly they pulled one of the most beloved Xmas songs, Fairytale of New York. Like a drunken Tom Waits song, featuring the singer Kirsty Mc Call who died in a freak accident in  2000 at 41!!!!    For me it wasn't this one or One Rainy Night in Soho, but Summer in Siam. And Dirty Old Town

Later on they kicked Shane out of the band for not showing up too many times. That was in 1991 in Japan. He started another band, Shane MacGowan and the Popes. The Pogues dissolved in 1996.They put on two albums without Shane. They regrouped in 2001 with MacGowan, playing hecticly 'til 2014. During the '00's MacGowan started doing heroin, when booze and smokes were not enough. Sinead O'Connor denounced him to the coppers. MacGowan didn't mind. He knew she, troubled mate soul of his, was right. Well, she died before him  (this July no less) and was only 56. Since 2015 he was permanenetly in a wheelchair. He had viral encephalitis but he died of tuberculosis.

Shane MacGowan was born on Christmas, on Dec. 25, 1957. He died on the night of November 30, at 3.30 am. We were partying Pogues style. Life...

Obit in The Guardian, here. And a grand (really!!!) rare interview also in The Guardian, here.

And just found out there is a documentary about him, produced by Johnny Depp and directed by Julian Temple, Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan, released in 2020. Special Award of the  Jury at San Sebastian festival that year. Watching it tonight, the rounds we had last night with crazy and manic friends, just the way Shane would've loved to go...

                                         “I could have been someone… Well so could anyone.”

check for his art book, decadent and silly, The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold.

duminică, 19 noiembrie 2023

When Evil Lurks/ Cuando acecha la maldad (2023)

Might just be the horror of the year.

Argentinian. Cuando acecha la maldad. Aka When Evil Lurks. 

Written and directed by Demian Rugna, whose Aterrados (Terrified), I saw at BIFF in 2018.

Last year's best film at Sitges. 

cool atmospheric music by Pablo Fuu (some guitar droning reminscent of Apocalyptica & Rodrigo & Gabriela)

Shades of Lucio Fulci (Gates of Hell, The Beyond), as in Aterrados, the Children from Who can kill a Child? (1976), Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. 

vineri, 17 noiembrie 2023

LMA Martin Scorsese (81)

Marty is 81 today. And somehow he managed to make one of his best films this year, Killers of the Flower Moon, an grand epic piece of Americana, the closest to the westerns as he ever got. My (introductive) piece on the film here. And a great interview after a screening of the film at the DGA, where Marty is interviewed by his old pal, Steven Spielberg. Much more than a regular by the numbers on film, Scorsese talks about the human existence, the not so dark side of evil and life choices. 

And back to LMA (La multi ani as in Happy Birthday;),

Love this pic, taken on "Bobby" De Niro's 80th Birthday, August 17, this year. Coppola, Marty (with a white wine) and Lucas, three on a couch, and some guy in Lucas' ear. 

marți, 14 noiembrie 2023

RIP Michel Ciment

communique du Festival de Cannes:

The great critic and writer Michel Ciment passed away yesterday at the age of 85, leaving cinema bereft of his words.

Michel Ciment was the Chief Editor of Positif magazine, the producer and host of the program Projection privée on France Culture until 2016, a critic for over fifty years on Le Masque et la Plume on France Inter and a lecturer at the University of Paris-VII. Additionally, he authored many reference books on cinema, notably on Stanley Kubrick, Elia Kazan, Joseph Losey, Francesco Rosi and Jane Campion. Michel Ciment had dedicated his life to passing on his knowledge and passion for the seventh art. A free spirit with an insatiable curiosity, he was the embodiment of cinephilia, embracing all types cinemas and never leaving any film aside.

He continued to explore world cinema right up to the end, particularly at the Festival de Cannes, where he never missed an edition, tirelessly going from press screenings to gala screenings, pacing the Bazin, Debussy, Buñuel and Lumière theaters... His opinions, both enlightened and strong, clear-cut and inflexible, meant a great deal and his voice resounded in the corridors of the Palais des Festivals at the end of each screening, amongst his attentive colleagues. Michel set the tone, in France and abroad. His death should remind us all of the importance of his legacy, and the need for ardent and resistant film review.

The Festival de Cannes without Michel Ciment will never be quite the same. We will miss him. And so will cinema.

I read Ciment's book on John Boorman (out in 1986) when I was in Denmark's EFC -1995/96,  (Boorman's tribute here), I met him in Berlin during Tavernier's In the Electric Mist and saw him moderate in Cannes the Quentin Tarantino Lecon du cinema and many other lectures. 
His historic interview/essay book on Stanley Kubrick (1980), was one that opened the doors of the SK myth to the public eye. 

sâmbătă, 11 noiembrie 2023

The Killer (2023)

"Execution is Everything".

It can stand for the director's demo & credo and his team on this one. 

The Killer, David Fincher's new endeavor for Netflix  (after Mank and the Mindhunter series) is a longtime project of his, since 2007. Based on the French Graphic Novel (and now there's 13 of 'em), Le Tueur/The Killer, written by Alexis Nolent (Matz), drawed by Luc Jacamon, published by Casterman, starting with 1998. The whole series are available to view here.

But there's not much left from the original source as I could study a bit. The series are very cool, the film by Fincher doesn't honor them, it just takes its cue from it. The script is a deconstruction of the genre, much less elliptic and less experimental than Jarmusch's failure with The Limits of Control.

A bit of existentialism like in the old The Mechanic (1972), by Lewis John Carlino. But here you get instead of Bosch, music by The Smiths. Of course every step of Alain Delon from Le Samourai to Scorpio. The hat is odd, the product placement is odder, the rhythm is the oddest, very much off, of course on purpose. 

And more off: Half of the film is the killer himself, aka Michael Fassbender. With aliases like Felix Under, or George Jefferson, and other comedic alter-egos;), Fassbender is not to be dealt with. Or double-crossed. It's all in his stream-of-consciousness narration. Or is it? 

Brilliant sound design by Ren Klyce (& music which is also sound design, by the Usual Suspects, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross), as The Killer is more a film to listen to than to see. Or to see and don't believe what you see.....

One scene, the fight is very much like in Haywire (2011, Steven Soderbergh), which Fincher admits as an influence, and Fassbender was in it. Dirty and loud and I couldn't wait to end. Obscene, by all means. Then there's Tilda Swinton, like it or not but the scene with her drinking a sea of whiskeys is the very off , like a classic of another genre, the gentlemanish thriller with suave hitmen and femme fatales. The end of the scene ain't pretty though. 

vineri, 3 noiembrie 2023

The Beatles-Now and Then (2023!!!!) -SOTD

Incredible but tru "I know it's true...").  Not Song of the day but more like Song of the Year !

Best songs this year by The Stones and The Beatles, and it's 2023 !!!

Released y-day. I guess this will really be the last Beatles song...

the video today. Directed by Peter Jackson, who directed the incredible Beatles doc with footage unseen, Get Back.

Now and Then's eventful journey to fruition took place over five decades and is the product of conversations and collaborations between the four Beatles that go on to this day. The long mythologised John Lennon demo was first worked on in February 1995 by Paul, George and Ringo as part of The Beatles Anthology project but it remained unfinished, partly because of the impossible technological challenges involved in working with the vocal John had recorded on tape in the 1970s. For years it looked like the song could never be completed. But in 2022 there was a stroke of serendipity. A software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team, used throughout the production of the documentary series Get Back, finally opened the way for the uncoupling of John’s vocal from his piano part. As a result, the original recording could be brought to life and worked on anew with contributions from all four Beatles. This remarkable story of musical archaeology reflects The Beatles’ endless creative curiosity and shared fascination with technology. It marks the completion of the last recording that John, Paul and George and Ringo will get to make together and celebrates the legacy of the foremost and most influential band in popular music history.

% the amazing making of -took alamost 50 years to get this done....

sâmbătă, 21 octombrie 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

"They die young"

The Alamo of epic, meaningful and beautiful moviemaking.
Killers of the Flower Moon is an instant American classic.
Would do a great double bill with There will be Blood.
Retribution and revolution, makes a stand for the American natives more than most films I can think of (Little Big Man, Dances with Wolves, Geronimo, etc.)
For me it's the best Scorsese film since Casino (I'd say that film 'cos it's epic and I saw it again this year and it was a blast-getting better with age- and I never liked the way The Departed was edited, never agreed morally with The Wolf of Wall Street, The Irishman lost me on the de-aging, loved the esthetics of Shutter Island but Scorsese disowns the film-!-). 
At 206 min. it could've been even longer (again my one hundred and fifty cents;) 
Reminded my of immortal doomed then, now essential films of films like The Godfather, Heaven's Gate, Once Upon a Time in America, those where every frame spent on film makes you wanna yearn for more. As I wrote above, meaningful.
Beware, the real film does not start 'til min 70, it's the longest exposition I've witnessed in a theater maybe ever, ?, 
Based on David Wann's 2017 non-fiction book on the true story of what happened in Osage County in the twenties of the last century. oil, greed, poison, murder, power play, manipulation,  conspiracy, touch of evil, a Macbeth/Shakespearianlike drama of twisted turn to the dark side.

Best of KotFN:
This is a very heavy film made by a man who is soon 81 years old. Kudos. It feels young at heart and justified.
Di Caprio (6th film with Marty, 21 years after Gangs of NY), plays on the edge, De Niro (tenth collaboration, 50 years+), also at his most evil (ex aqueo with Angel Heart & The Untouchables where he was at the opposite, haven't seen him so restrained in a long time)the ensemble cast plus some cameos (musicians Charlie Musselwaite, Jack White, Pete Yorn, and Martin Scorsese himself, in his most heartfelt appearance yet).
Highest point: it's the Last score of Robbie Robertson  (he was part Indian-Six Nations- so he was proud to do this film- and definetly at most his personal and best. "Still Standing" is a grand song and a lawful legacy. 
Magnificent cinematography, again by Rodrigo Pietro, set design by legendary Terry Malick's attachee Jack Fisk (born 1945 -another similitude with There Will Be Blood whose production designer he also was, but this is Fisk's first film with Scorsese though !!!).
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker (82!!!), Marty's collaborator for all his life & work.
      In memory of Robbie Robertson


vineri, 20 octombrie 2023

Hackney Diamonds (out 2day) !!!

I'm listening to Hackney Diamonds 'til morning and I think it's really great! Listening before to the 2 singles- to Angry to the point of overexposure, then liked the Lady Gaga/Stevie Wonder song. Sweet Sounds of Heaven. 
Ok, ten new songs were waiting. Special brut prosecco/spumante opened (Aragosta), and here we go (again-st;)

Who would ever believe The Stones would pull this out in 2023 ???
Now there's guest spots from old friends like Paul McCartney (Bite My Head off, on bass, for the 1st time on Stones record!) and Elton John (Live by the Sword and Get Close, Elton on piano). 
Whole Wide World is more a new wave-punk song, the most pop-ish here.
Driving Me Too Hard, another power riff.
Mess it Ups funky rthythm reminded me of Emotional Rescue and that period songs. 
Some cool country vibes on Dreamy Skies.
And the Keef special, Tell me Straight, another warm truth seeking statement. 
For the grand finale, The Rolling Stone Blues, a Muddy Waters song from 1950 and a worthy coda, true to both artists' legacy and legend.

Charlie Watts is still here, present on drums on Mess it Up and Live by the Sword, both recorded in 2019. Live by the Sword gets also Bill Wyman on bass. 
The rest is done with the Stones old cahoot Darryl Jones on and Steve Jordan on drums. The album is produced by Andrew Watt (ecclectic American producer known as Watt who for me is the guy behind Ozzy' Ordinary Man and Patient no. 9 and Iggy's latest, Every Loser), who contributed on three songs as a composer.
Critics have given Hackney Diamonds positive reviews and several have remarked that it is their strongest album in multiple decades. Long time til 2005 and better and stabler sound and songwriting.
The album's name is London slang for the shattered glass left behind after burglars have smashed a window to break in, Hackney being an inner-city area of London associated with a high crime rate.

I totally agree, it's much much better than A Bigger Bang and Bridges to Babylon, i have a softer spot for Voodoo Lounge though. 
"Happy"?, would ask Keef. Yes, sireee ;)
Worth another special bubbly ;) Noroc !!!
Guess I gotta see ya guys again next year!!! Who would've believe it though? 

miercuri, 18 octombrie 2023

Saw X (2023)

Tobin Bell is for the 1st time the lead in SAW X, the tenth film of the infamous porn torture gimmick McGyver franchise started in 2004 by Aussies ex-pats James Wan and Leigh Whannell. This is a smart sequel, set after Saw and before some events from that film and before Saw 2, and considered to be the best of all in the series, except the original, cos' yep, that was the 1st.

Bell is John Kramer, better known as Jigsaw. Now in Mexico in the seek for a cure for his brain cancer.

Bell is a great veteran character actor who's career has been turned up to cult status and stardom with the Jigsaw character. He is 81 now, and also a very good balladeer. See here. He looks fragile now and somehow reminds me of Clint Eastwood. He's also the reason I went to see this film, with great precaution, being ready to leave the theater if i get too bored or offended. But the screening was like a heavy metal concert of sorts. Dumb but loud, and sometimes fun. 

A strong asset of this Xth entry is blonde Norwegian actress Synnøve Macody Lund, as Cecilia Pederson, a worthy adversary for John.
 Pulsating score again by Charlie Clouser (ex Nine Inch Nails), the creator of the film signature theme, that brought a lot of thrill and production value to a very B first film. Also Shawnee Smith returns as Amanda, and another surprise cameo which I won't spoil here will turn up on the mid end credits. 

Directed by the editor of the series, Kevin Greutert, who is also the editor here. He directed also Saw VI and Saw 3D in the franchise.

Here's a history of the Saw franchise. 

or video- the films 1 to 9 explained on youtube here.

and the ratings of imdb for each film.


Never thought I will see another Saw film in a theater, I guess I saw only the first Saw in the cinema, and then also another title from the franchise, can't remember which one, probably no. 2 or 3, and saw Jigsaw and Spiral (#8 & 9) at home but wasn't impressed. Skipped at least half of the films. Now, as far as I can guess, the Saw franchise and spin-offs are far to be done and will come back with more bloody gimmicks and R rated traps. 

3 out of 5. 6 out of 10. 

marți, 17 octombrie 2023

Peter Gabriel's i/o cover photo

This is the cover image of the new PETER GABRIEL album "i/o".  Photo by Nadav Kander.

PETER GABRIEL's "i/o" is an album that took more than 20 years to become reality.

The album is out on December, after the last full moon of this year. 

Peter's been releasing a new song every full moon of 2023, a masterstroke of promotion & marketing which was never performed before. As for the cover, it's a work of art and it follows the thematic cover art of PG, one of the best and most consistent artworks of a modern artist who happens to work in the musical field. 

A collection of PG's album covers artworks here.

The Making of "i/o": or here

luni, 16 octombrie 2023

Libertate / Freedom (2023)

 cronica in românește aici

And now, in ingles...

Libertate/Freedom -a necessary film

The fifth cinema feature by Tudor Giurgiu (Despre oameni și melci/About people and Snails, Why Me?), has a strong theme that hurt us (and still hurts). The Sibiu events of December 1989 were not told until now on film.

2 million bullets were shot (!!!) , 99 people died and 272 were wounded, 522 persons suspected as terrorists were illegally detained in a swimming pool of the Sibiu Military Unit 01512, last of them freed only on February 1st 1990. It was complete chaos & hellfire and there were the most casualties in the country, after the ones in Bucharest.

A very tough and a very necessary film. 
In 33 years after the ”Point Zero” there was only one important film about the ”Revolution”, Hîrtia va fi albastră/The paper will be Blue, by Radu Muntean (2006), and in the same year a satirical view of it-A fost sau nu afost/12:08 East of Bucharest, by Corneliu Porumboiu. Together with a documentary (a bit abstract and experimental) Videograme dintr-o revoluție/Videograms of a Revolution, by Andrei Ujică and Harun Farocki in 1992 (you can see it on youtube and it's even more relevant today!). 

A prestigious ensemble cast, a whole generation of actors (I won't name names out of respect for all of them-I counted 27 parts of equal importance) a detailed research that took 4 years and a half (script written by Giurgiu with Cecilia Ștefănescu based on an idea by Nap Toader), set design (Vali Ighiceanu), costumes (Viorica Petrovici-update: Libertate just won the Award for best costumes and sets at the Waterloo Historical Film Festival, bravo!), and high production values, dynamic, violent hand-held photography by Alex Sterian, alert editing (Reka Lemhenyi), a prophetic and ironic title in the same time, not necessarily in the search for a Cathartic Truth, but a naturalist remake with the feeling and shape of a documentary. No one is condemned, there is no personal judgement, just what is puzzling all of us and is found in the films subtext -why did this happen and mostly, can it happen again?

To be seen -definitely in cinemas (October 6th in theaters across the country).

Alin Ludu Dumbravă -Culturama nr. 3, octombrie 2023

Libertate (2023)

Libertate -un film necesar*

*această cronichetă a apărut în print în ziarul Culturama al Băncii de Cultură Apollonia, nr. 3, ediția octombrie 2023.

aceiasi cronica, in engleza, aici. 

Al cincilea lungmetraj de cinema a lui Tudor Giurgiu (Despre oameni și melci, De ce eu?), preia o te gravă și care încă ne doare (și ne va mai durea). Evenimentele de la Sibiu din decembrie 1989 nu au mai fost povestite până acum. S-au tras 2 milione de gloanțe (!!!) , au murit 99 de oameni și alți 272 au fost răniți, 522 de persoane considerate teroriști au fost reținute ilegal într-un bazin gol al unității militare 01512, ultimii din ei fiind eliberați abia pe 1 februarie 1990, a fost haos total, au fost cei mai mulți morți din țară, după București.

Un film foarte dur, și un film absolut necesar. În 33 de ani de la ”Punctul Zero” a fost făcut un singur film important despre ”Revoluție”, Hîrtia va fi albastră de Radu Muntean (2006), și în același an un film-pamflet, A fost sau nu a fost, al lui Corneliu Porumboiu. Alături de un puternic documentar (dar puțin abstract și experimental) Videograme dintr-o revoluție, de Andrei Ujică și Harun Farocki din 1992 (filmul se poate vedea pe youtube și este mai cutremurător azi decît la data premierei!).

Distribuție de ansamblu, o generație întreagă de actori (nu am să numesc niciunul din respect pentru fiecare -am numărat 27 de roluri de egală importanță), o documentare minuțioasă care a durat patru ani și jumătate (scenariu scris de Giurgiu alături de Cecilia Ștefănescu după o idee de Nap Toader), scenografie (Vali Ighiceanu), costume (Viorica Petrovici-update, Liberatate tocmai a luat premiu pentru cele mai bune costume și decoruri la festivalul Filmului istoric de la Waterloo, bravo!) și o producție minuțioasă, imagine dinamică din mână, violentă, de Alex Sterian, montaj alert (Reka Lemhenyi), un titlu profetic și ironic în același timp, nu neapărat în căutarea unui Adevăr catartic, ci o reconstituire naturalistă cu aspect și tentă de documentar, fără a condamna pe nimeni, fără a emite judecăți personale, decît aceea care ne macină pe toți și care se găsește în subtextul filmului, de ce a trebuit să se întâmple asta și mai ales, se poate întîmpla din nou?

De văzut neapărat -și de văzut în cinema (din 6 octombrie în toată țara).

Alin Ludu Dumbravă

-critic de film-

*** Coda***sau P.S. (16.10.23, well, wasn't the best day, but the coldest til now..)

Mi s-a pus în vedere că mai sunt și alte filme despre ”Revoluție”, Cum mi-am petrecut sfîrșitul lumii al lui Cătălin Mitulescu, tot din 2006 nu e despre asta ci despre copilarie și Stare de fapt (1995) regia Stere Gulea, co-scenarist (sau "dupa o idee de") Lucian Pintilie !, despre care chiar uitasem, e un film isteric, sordid și cam periferic, răfuială cu securiștii. Dar dacă le vreți și pe astea de ce nu vorbim și de 15 de Sergiu Nicolaescu (2005) și chiar Punctul Zero (1996), unde avem reconstituirea execuției Ceaușeștilor. Atîta s-a putut...:D

Nu suntem într-un film de Nicolaescu”, e replica din filmul lui Giurgiu. Nu, nu suntem. Suntem (aici) de mii de ani și într-o etapă nouă acum de 33 de ani într-un film prost. Se numește (I)Realitate mioritică. Libertatea e doar (sau ”decât”) un concept frumos, eteric, iluziv, escapist. Liber, adică dezlegare la pește...

duminică, 15 octombrie 2023

Hârtia va fi albastră / The Paper will be Blue (2006)

Apropo de Libertate de Tudor Giurgiu, acum pe ecrane (cronica mea din ziarul de Brașov Culturama aici și în engleză aici), iată și cronica la celalat film despre ”Revolutie”, Hârtia va fi albastră de Radu Muntean, cu premiera pe 13 octombrie 2006 (i was there ;). Articolul a apărut atunci în revista Șapte Seri. Dacă vă interesează și Porumboiu, A fost sau n-a fost, cronica mea din epocă, tot Șapte Seri, e aici.


Hîrtia e foarte albastră - Hîrtia va fi albastră 

 de Alin Ludu Dumbravă

 Şapte Seri / octombrie 2006

"There's no time No time to remember these days No time to hold back in that size We don't have no time, no time, no time... No time for revolution!" 

                                                              Falco - No Time for Revolution

Atenţiune, atenţiune! Film nou românesc! Iară cu revoluţia? Da, dar nu iară şi nu din nou, ci pentru prima dată... despre cei ce au băgat în stradă în noaptea de 22-23 decembrie, în capitala acestei ţări numită pe atunci R.S.R. (Republica Socialistă România), cei ce au murit de-an pixul la acea circotecă datorită căreia azi poţi să-ţi iei maşină în leasing şi să culegi căpşuni în spaniolă. Aşa zisa "Revoluţie", minunata lovitură de stat bazată pe zvonistică, fum fără foc şi foc fără fum, scăpată de sub control datorită unor tineri entuziaşti. Mulţi dintre ei n-au mai apucat să se entuziasmeze de a doua zi încolo, nici măcar să se deprime. Pentru cei care au avut ghinion, în confuzia generală, prezentată realist de Radu Muntean (la al doilea film de cinema, după Furia), 22-23 a fost o noapte fatală, nu "Conu' Leonida faţă cu reacţiunea". Ţţţţţ, noroc că a fost cald. Că altfel, dacă erau minus 30 de grade, se ducea de râpă tot evenimentul. Aah, şi să nu uit, era mai cald afară ca înăuntru.

OK. Precizări. Hîrtia va fi albastră e un film Important. Dur. Minimalist. Docu-dramă. Lumina de atunci, străzile sumbre, camera tremurată, dar foarte puţin, culorile desaturate (bravo Tudor Lucaciu). Nu mă aştept să se bată lumea pe bilete, pentru că aud zvonuri cum că "iară cu revoluţia, dom'le, ne laşi, au trecut 16 ani". Da, au trecut şi iată, un copil de 16 ani, nenăscut în tomberonul lui Ceaşcă, poate să afle şi el câte ceva. Să vadă primul film cu adevărat despre "noaptea cea mai lungă". Într-un stil narativ alert, cu miez şi point. Să afle de unde vine ciunga şi coca cola aia, că nu scrie pe net şi messenger! Eu cam atât aş avea de spus. Să-i ducă la film, cu clasa, de la şcoală. Aşa cum erau duşi elevii să facă cu mâna Cârmaciului, cînd trecea pe drum, sau cum recoltau cartofi, ca să avem agricultură. Am şi o problemă, una singură în unghi subiectiv şi muzical, genericul final cu Nana Mouskouri şi corul sclavilor. Mă aşteptam de la Radu la ceva gen Scorsese în Goodfellas, unde cântă Sid Vicious My Way, adică ceva mai punk, gen Zob cu o variantă la Deşteaptă-te, Române, sau varianta mea (că se discută în film despre Amadeus-ul austriac, RIP), No Time for Revolution. OK. După film am intrat într-o tutungerie-alimentară, butic, chiar în spatele Ateneului Român pe care scrie Molière, Franklin etc, şi era ca pe vremuri, salam, cu menţiunea fără soia. În continuare la noi hîrtia e foarte albastră. Nu ca cea de turnesol, că nu-şi schimbă culoarea, asemeni cameleonului naţional.

sâmbătă, 14 octombrie 2023

Nigel Kennedy plays Hendrix in Bucharest (again;)

 Nigel K. is back with some Hendrix before Xmas :D

Saw him there in 2008

2018...(plays Bach meets Gershwin) 

*** Unfortunately this gig was cancelled just three days before the show (I guess they didn't sell enough Tickets...)

sâmbătă, 9 septembrie 2023

Oppenheimer (2023) en Roumain ;)

 acest articol -semi-cronică- trebuia sa apară în print. It didn't. 

Așa că apare aici, adică moare pe limba lui...


Sindromul Oppenheimer

de Alin Ludu Dumbravă

more here (also in ingles):

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy?

Sting -Russians (1985)

Din aceste versuri a auzit englezul Christopher Nolan la 15 ani despre un anume Oppenheimer și jucăria lui mortală. Piesa de pe albumul de debut al lui Sting, cu acorduri din Stravinski. Ceea ce ne leagă cumva pentru că și eu am auzit tot de acolo de el și la vremea lui mi-a plăcut imens piesa. Era în plin război rece iar noi eram după Cortina cea mai de fier.

Azi Chris Nolan este unul din cei mai titrați regizori din lume, cu succese în filme și genuri diferite, cu teme însă extrem de similare- memoria falsă-Memento, reinventarea unui mit din romanele grafice cult: trilogia Batman, teleportare -The Prestige, realitatea visului-Inception, paradoxul temporal-Interstellar, război pe trei planuri paralele-Dunkirk, inversie temporală-Tenet) și acum a devenit autorul unui biopic mult aștepata despre fizicianul american J. Robert Oppenheimer, creatorul bombei atomice. Oppenheimer este de departe cel mai ambițios film al anului. Și de aproape poate cel mai important film al lui Nolan. Și e un film foarte necesar pentru ziua de azi. Cillian Murphy în rolul titular, rolul vieții. Distribuție de ansamblu de vis. Durată epică, 3 ore pe ceas. Succes financiar și de critică-uriaș. Zvon de Oscar, sunt sigur că va fi considerat ”cel mai bun film” la Oscar anul viitor. Plus multe alte acolade.


Sper ca Greta Gerwig, prima femeie care a regizat un film care a depăsit plafonul de 100 de miliarde de $ încasări mondiale -anume Barbie) să nu îl prade însă pe Nolan de Oscar. În orice caz istoriei nu îi va păsa.

După cum a spus-o Paul Schrader, unul din marii scenariști și regizori din Noul Cinema American (de la Taxi Driver la Master Gardner), ”Oppenheimer este cel mai bun și mai important film al acestui secol”. De ce a considerat Scharder asta? Are legatură cu bomba atomică și cu proiectul Manhattan, sau doar pentru faptul că un asemenea ”film biografic” despre un subiect greu-fizicieni atomici, McCharthysm, moralitate, resposabilitate și povara istoriei, nu a mai fost făcut și pare ireal că e produs azi de un mare studio american. Oppenheimer face rapel în temă și subiect la un mare film clasic, Amadeus (1984, Milos Forman), referitor la relația fizicianului cu politicanul Lewis Strauss (un Robert Downey Jr. și el în rolul vieții), gîlceava între geniu și mediocritate. O poveste tristă care pare incredibilă, și ea este baza structurii filmului lui Nolan, văzut dintr-un unghi subiectiv de către personajul central și în lungi secvențe alb-negru de către nemesisul său. Poate și de aici acest uriaș interes mondial față de film, subiect și universul prezentat.

Re: sunet și imagine-vă sfătuiesc să mergeți la IMAX la București dacă sunteți prin zonă, a fost filmat cu camere IMAX 70 mm. Iar referitor la muzică și sunet, la plîngerea multora că sunt prea bombastice, aceasta a fost și intenția.

Sunt uimit de câtă lume l-a văzut, dar sunt și mai uimit de cîtă lume nu l-a văzut încă. Mai veți timp în cinema. Mai rulează, datorită succesului de public uluitor (în România l-au văzut peste 470 de mii de oameni). O lună jumătate și 865 de milioane de dolari mai rziu (filmul a costat 100 de milioane de dolari plus tot pe atâta investiție în marketing și distribuție), bomba cinematografică, estetică (și filosofică) a lui Nolan continuă să explodeze peste tot în lume. 

In 1965, twenty years after the dropping of the bombs, Oppenehimer did an interview for The Decision to Drop the Bomb. Speaking with NBC News, he delivered his famous lines: We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed. A few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty, and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now, I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” I supposed we all thought that, one way or another.