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Archive for the ‘Good movies’ Category

"Pina"

"Pina"

I saw “Avatar” and “Megamind” and the fourth “Pirates…” and each time I said: “OK, so this 3D thing is kinda neat and everything, now, can I please see a good movie using it?”

Now I finally did.

Aside from “Pina” being, well, perfect, it is the first picture I saw where the third dimension feels really necessary. Watching all those more or less CGI sets and objects in aforementioned movies (and many others) I couldn’t resist thinking that the depth only adds to the feel of their falsehood. “Pina” shows me that using 3D cameras only really makes sense if they’re pointed at a theater stage. Why? When you sit in an actual theater (not cinema) and watch a play, you actually watch in 3D, obviously, right? You yourself can choose which part of the stage you want to focus on, and everything is equally shown. If you would watch a play on a regular, 2D screen, big chunk of that would be taken from you, since you’d be shown only what the cameraman or editor picked to show or focus on at that moment. And here’s where 3D picture works – it brings back that theater feel to the silver screen. Now you can again choose what to look at! I’d love to see some famous plays, musicals or operas shot in 3D and projected on a cinema screen…

“Pina” gives you even more, as it creatively marries two media – it gives you the benefit of a theater, as you watch actors on stages (even if not all are actual theater stages, as we often see dancers in different buildings, along with streets or parks), but also brings into equations elements of film language, such as editing (obviously not possible in theater) or camera wandering around actors on the stage (whereas in real theater you, as a spectator, are always pinned to your seat).

That’s about form, and as for the content – I haven’t seen a movie I’d call a High Art in a cinema for a long time now. For some reason, while watching it, I felt an urge to watch Wim Wenders movies (“Paris, Texas” and “Buena Vista Social Club”, especially), and it wasn’t until I left the cinema and learned that it was actually Wenders who made this movie! I didn’t know that.

Also, it made me want to dance.

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“Black Swan”

"Black Swan" poster

"Black Swan"

So, “Black Swan”, right?

I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. I hate horror movies. I’m so easily scared by them (or any movie, actually), and yet time and time again I go and watch some scary flick. There was spanish “El Orfanado”, there was “The Happening” (to all who want to say “‘Happening’ was scary?” I have an unpolite retort prepared, so better not), I even have some movies based on King’s novels and stories (“1408”, “Needful Things” or “The Mist”) and I keep convincing myself that one (sunny and bright) day I’ll watch them, but who are we kidding? I won’t gather the courage to do that… until one day I will and put them on, and then curse myself from behind the cushion throughout the whole movie. And, of course, promise myself I’ll never watch any horror. Until the next time.

My fiancee says I’m a masochist. She may be right. (more…)

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"Up in the Air"

"Up in the Air"

Last Friday we went to see the new Jason Reitman (of “Juno” fame, son of Ivan of “Ghostbusters” fame) movie, “Up In The Air”, starring George Clooney as a renowned specialist in the area of firing people, who spends only about 40 days a year in his apartment – a blank space, lacking any indications of a real person living there – and the rest travelling around the States, doing his most hated (by others – he himself loves it) job, or, as the title indicates – up in the air, collecting miles travelled on board of various planes.

My Better Half hated the movie, while I quite liked it – it showed exactly the side of corporate America that will definitely come to Poland in some 10-20 years (as everything else did), but which I already have a chance to taste in the company I work in. Several hours before the movie I had a chance to read Javier’s blog post about corporate language (we work in the same company), and how, for example, they don’t ever use the word “problem”. They even avoid using the word “issue”, when something unexpected happens. No. In corporate language something like this is called “opportunity for improvement”.

And that’s exactly what “Up In The Air” is about – George Clooney’s character travels around the US and tells people, who worked ten-twenty-thirty years for a company, have spouses and children to feed and mortgages to pay off, that they’re not losing the job, they’re not fired, no – they are given the fantastic opportunity to chase their long-forsaken dreams! How great is that?

Watching movies like this makes me glad that Poland is still quite far away from Fabulous America. And maybe that’s the reason why we argued so much about it – me with my fiancee, that is – because while I work in a real, american corporation, Ania is working very deep in typical, Polish school teaching environment, and for her it’s very hard to believe she can give negative grades to their students and tell them with a wide smile that it’s a “great opportunity for improvement” for them. “Hey! You failed the test! Look how much there is for you to learn! Isn’t that just wonderful?”

Of course, american middle class movies and shows (like “Desperate Housewives”, for example) show that american education system uses the same corporate approach to show every failure in bright colors and never ever let the students feel bad about their lack of knowledge, skills or just plain laziness. It’s all a great field to improve for them, isn’t it?

In my opinion, the world would be a better place if people were more able to just face the facts. But if they’re not taught to do that as children, they won’t be able to do that as adults. They are just hanging up in the air, with false views on their abilities or knowledge, and when the reality hits, it hits with the force of the ground when you fall from ten thousand feet…

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Mosaic of Love

"Love Actually"

"Love Actually"

A Mosaic Plot is a type of a multi-threaded plot with many separate stories, but where the stories are somehow intertwined – sometimes the characters from different threads know each other or are related to each other (“Playing By Heart”, “Magnolia”), sometimes not even that – they might just pass each other on the street or in some doorway (“Traffic”, “Syriana”).

In recent years there were quite a few such constructed movies, but with romantic comedy plots – “Valentine’s Day” being one of them. After seeing that I was recommended some older movies in similar style, and this week I decided to do some catching up.

“Love Actually” is pretty good. Seriously, “Valentine’s Day” is just a poor copy of that classic British romantic comedy from 2003. The stories are more real, more down-to-Earth and less tasting like diabetes. Aside from many happy endings, there is also death, adultery and painful prioritizing disturbed family over (potential) love life. Much like one of the best Philip K. Dick’s novels, “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said”, this movie deals with many different kinds of love, not just the romantic one.

"He's Just Not That Into You"

"He's Just Not That Into You"

“He’s Just Not That Into You”, American movie from 2009, is more romantic, but less a comedy – the relationships here are further away from “Valentine’s Day”, and closer to, well, “Closer”: some are happy, but some are quite painful. What I loved here, though, was that even though stories are pretty straightforward and rarely surprising, the actors just made them real. Also, Jennifer Annistor for the third time plays in a movie that seems like a rom-com from afar, but in reality isn’t one (the previous two were “The Break-Up” and “Object Of My Affection” from 1998 – boy, did we argue about that movie with my fiancee…).

I like well-constructed mosaic movies, I’m not so keen on rom-coms, but I still enjoy a good movie, and those two were really good. Not only were they fun to watch, but both of them got me really involved with the characters and left me with something to think about – and that’s what I love in movies the most, whichever genre they are.

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Here comes the sun!

Spring finally arrived in Poland. After four months spent in the dark and cold, the sun came, melt most of the snow away, uncovered the green and brought beautiful, warm wheather. It was so beautiful yesterday that for the first time in a long, long period I left house voluntarily and went for a walk with my fiancee and my camera. We sat on a bench and charged our solar batteries for a while, we opened our windows wide when we got back home, and we basked in the smell of fresh earth. It was amazing.

So amazing that I just couldn’t sit inside for too long – in the afternoon I grabbed my camera again and just got out. My plan was to shoot some photos of the early spring, see my friend Lucy, buy a printer/scanner/copier and go see the new Polanski movie.

The plan was realized in 50% plus – Lucy was not in town and it was already too dark for taking photos, but I bought the machine, visited my parents briefly and did see the movie.

“The Ghost Writer” is not, as some people said, his greatest achievement and the most important movie in his career, but it was good – it’s less a thriller or action movie, and more psychological, very much in the usual Planski’s style. Additionally, it’s great to realize that there are still movies that can surprise me.

And today, since my Multisport card arrived on Friday, I’m oficially launching the swimming season! The biking season is getting closer too – I can’t wait to switch from bus and car (no matter how I love my little Panda) to my two-wheeler…

PS. More photos on how winter caved before inevitable spring – here.

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The breakup of Yugoslavia

The breakup of Yugoslavia

Something’s happening to me.

For the major part of my life I was pretty oblivious about what’s happening around me, in the Real World, near of far. Then something happened, and I can’t be quite sure, what – was it the fact that I started working and became a Citizen? Or that I started reading newspapers (both printed and on the Web) and thus learning about what’s going on around? Or is that the influence of my fiancée? Or many people that I met over last two-three years? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the combination of all the above, maybe something else entirely, but my sensitivity is changing. Developing, I dare say.

Milena visited our Toastmasters club two weeks ago, after having left in August for some political course in Venice (she’s Bulgarian and she graduated Political Sciences on Jagiellonian University), and told us about her trip – also as part of her political studies – to Kosovo she’d taken some two months ago. We started talking about the situation there and in all the Balkans and I realized I don’t really know much about it. It all happened when I was seven through eleven – the History was taking place lest than 1000 kilometers away, and the tragedies of Yugoslavian wars lasted for four years – and I didn’t really know anything.

Of course, with TVs and radios blazing in my house all the time the names just had to find some way into my brain, but I never grasped what was really happening, but the talk with Milena fueled my need to learn some modern, European history. She recommended that I watched the six part BBC documentary “The Death of Yugoslavia”, entirely available on YouTube. And I just did…

(more…)

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