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Monthly Archives: April 2006

The characters are quite cute, one has to admit, and no doubt there is a pace about the directing that is extremely professional. I almost get used to this quality, and I guess this means that I more and more accept artifcial characters telling real-life stories. The technical quality of the animation is being forgotten, and the new star is … the story! And here we are at the wek point. It is not too original, the characters are all a bit underdeveloped, the whole set-up appears to be too much targeting at smallest fellow citizens for comfort. Am I too old for this? Well, I enjoyed it, but still I wished I had seen something more… mature? Will try Howl’s Castle next, let’s see whether this provides the desired satisfaction…

Found at
Monday, July 18 2005

Chinese authorities have signed what is being described as a historic
anti-piracy agreement with the Motion Picture Association of America under
which Hollywood studios will provide China with a schedule of its releases
every three months. If any of the films on the list is offered on the
Chinese marketplace before its release, China has agreed to confiscate the
copies and prosecute the sellers.

Found at
Monday, April 24 2006

In its latest strategy to combat piracy in China, Warner Home Video has
released the DVD version of The Aviator priced at the equivalent of $1.50,
the London Financial Times reported today (Monday). “This is a first step to
see if the consumer can accept this product at this price,” a company
spokeswoman told the publication. It noted that some pirate DVDs sell for
half the $1.50 figure. It also observed that the tactic could backfire and
could “anger consumers in developed markets such as Europe and the U.S., who
typically pay $20-$30 for a recently released film on DVD.”

It remains to be seen which of the films in this year’s Oscar race will be remembered in, say, 30 years. I am sure it will be… none, really. Now that I made my way through almost all of the best film and best director nominees, I am extremely pleased with what I’ve seen. I think, however, that almost all of these films (and the ever-popular “Brokeback” as well as my own guess at gold, “Capote”, even before I’ve seen it) appear to be made with the help of the “arthouse machine”.

I did not know that they had it invented, but after seeing Capote now I am sure. There is an ultra-professional thing about the pace, the dialogues, the editing, the music (what music? Yes, there is some, hidden exquisitely between the frames). And the acting, of course. Hoffman  is incredible, no doubt, and even though it may be true that artificial characters such as Truman Capote may be easier to perform, he manages to bring a lot of subtlety into it, to the point where you really wonder whether the actor Hoffmann feels any bit of sympathy for the actor Capote, whether he hates him or he wants to be him, or both. The frankness with which Capote is being presented as a mostly heartless egomaniac is startling and unexpected, and it is interesting to realise with what kind of attitude you leave the cinema: did you forgive him because he moved in a courageous fashion at the end, and went to visiting a friend even though he feared nothing more? Or do you detest him because the only reason why he needs courage for this visit is that he is quite frankly a heartless, boneless and ball-less prat. The kind of characters I like, I have to admit, at least in movies and literature. In any case: I need to read the book again!

The funny thing about the Chinese heroines with the funny English can be forgotten, as you really have to be a particular geek to care about this kind of intra-Asian jealosy games. What I think is the important part about it is that the fact that the film-makers decided to cast people without sufficient profciency in the English language – and then did decide not to dub them. It is completely odd to listen to these Japanese  people talking to each other trying to get a grip on the language of their invadors-to-be. The film lost quite a bit of its atmosphere to me because of this.

All in all, you cannot call it a masterpiece, anyway.  The story is straightforward in a way, without more than the expected twists of faith that happen when you dwell into life in the first half of the 20th Century. Admittedly, I was caught a wee bit by surprise when, in the middle of the movie, I realised what the time of the story actually is. I guess I was a bit unconcentrated at the beginning, so the facts passed by without notice and if you had told me that we are in mid-18th century, I would have believed it (I probably would have belived mid-12th century…). And I cannot but wonder whether the supposedly brilliant book would not have deserved a more inspired film-maker and story-teller than Rob Marshall – the man who brought us … Chicago… well. It must be a bit like the Harry Potter phenomenon: you take some bits and pieces out of a larger structure, then glue it together by means of film – and you end up surprised why it lost its magic and where has all the money gone. Into production design, in this case, which is, of course, very nice to look at, and actresses’ salary, who are, surprisingly, not too spectacular in their appearance or performance. Partly, I guess, because Zhang ZiYi is not as cute as she used to be. Never mind. It is, and that is always unfotunate to say, just what you would supposed you would get. Lavislhy decorated bit a not very much. 

There are people who say that Sean Penn is without doubt the best living actor. There are other people who say that you can never be 100 per cent sure, but that’s only mathematics. And there are people like myself who still cannot believe that somebody like Clint Eastwood (remember: the guy with the cigarillo and the poncho, who was  always wearing dirty boots and hardly ever spoke a work) keeps directing one outrageously brillant film after the other. I remember that when I watched "Bird" I kept reminding myself that this is surely something special to see a movie in which Eastwood does not play, but does direct, a rather exotic one-off experience like a film by Laurence Olivier. However: while I have surely not seen all these films, the standard he sets is so amazingly high, and the whole wir so extremely laid back, that noone will ever be able to explain to me how come that so many directors are not able to do the same. Looks so easy, so smooth. And, yes, Sean Penn: this could be the combination of the century, really. The most-suffering actor ever and the most relaxed director do a thriller together. The result, of course, is less a thriller: it’s a thrilling melodrama with exclusively excellent actors, brilliant music, perfect camera and editing. There is a thriller hidden inside, of course. Who killed the daughter, and why, something which is surely a driving force behind the (supposedly excellent) novel by … Denis Lehaene? Something along these lines. But of course it is so much more interesting to join those guys wondeing what life could have been if another of the kids had been sitting in the backseat of this car some decades ago. Would life be different? Would the cop be the killer? Would the suspect be the lawyer? And why do all these couples distrust each other so much that the wife hands over her husband into the hands of his murderer?

Nick Hornby wrote about the book: "I want to have friends who recommend books like ‘Mystic River’ to me. Noone told me for years what an excellent book that is. Are you out there, friend, and tell me more? Pleeeese!" (very free quotation). And if I will ever miss another Eastwood film again, may my eyes drop out of my skull in despair…

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