Reviews written by registered user

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14 reviews in total 
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Soft (2006)
10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Vivid and truthful, 23 July 2007

Previewing a number of short films for Sarajevo Film Festival I was amazed by this one. This mini social drama made me interested in other Ellis' works so I've spent some time exploring his home page. Beautiful photos, funny stories, plenty awards, bright young man...

In this brilliant 14-minute film Ellis shows father who's having a problem with raising his son the way he learns to fight for himself, father who is not able to confront, to stand up even for himself. Being attacked and humiliated by the same street gang, they are both scared. For a boy, it is natural to get terrified by older and violent kids, but father seems even more frightened. Since his father is too weak (soft), the boy takes the role/responsibility of an adult. So vivid and truthful, so excellent story, great actors and superb editing - I could barely name any weak point.

Cannot wait Ellis' first feature film!

Young Adam (2003)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A beat hymn, 4 May 2006

It would take a lot of space to describe the long and windy road that Alexander Trocchi's novel had to go through to become filmed. Almost forgotten beat generation writer, pornographer, drug addict and vagabond who seem to be a person with a lot of talent for destruction, was re-discovered by David McKenzie who made a script based upon this novel. It took several years to get this film made and the fight was tough and exhausting. The leading actor, Ewan McGregor, did many efforts in this direction as well – and here we are, watching (even on the Bosnian TV!) a sharp and pretty brutal film about a womanizer who seduces and abandons almost all women in his surrounding. Although the film starts with a romantic scene of a beautiful swan on the calm water, the floating female corps appears immediately after the bird and turns all the beauty into the gloomy mystery. As the story folds up, we discover the secret life of the main characters following explicitly their sexual relationships and hidden past. In a true beat manner it seems that the whole life of the main character lacks some kind of purpose. Joe's senseless drifting from one woman to another comes in the flash-back retrospective episodes while the boat hovers through the channel between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Two men and a woman on the boat more mumble than talk and more communicate with the body language than with words. While Joe seduces Leslie's (great Peter Mullan) wife Ella (absolutely brilliant Tilda Swinton) in the present, it becomes clear that the deceased girl was a young vagrant's previous lover and that he knows very well how she died. Besides superb acting from the whole team, very special taste to this erotic, dark tale gives brilliant music by David Byrne which softens it when it becomes too mean to digest.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
More dark than a comedy, 4 May 2006

The most common description for Nishikawa Miwa's feature debut is "a dark comedy". It is obvious that a lot of darkness is there, as it shows a total collapse of one dysfunctional middle-class family, but calling it a comedy… this could be further discussed. It is not funny to discover that almost all family members lie every day to each other, they cheat, hide things and keep their secrets under the simulated calm surface. The already explored topic of a father who had lost his job but still pretends that everything is like it used to be is widened with an enormous amount of debt he produced. The debt is publicly announced at the grandpa's funeral, in front of all friends, family members and daughter's boyfriend. This causes not only a downfall of a family, but also a failure of a relationship between daughter Tomoko, the only decent and ethical person in this crew, and her boyfriend. This occasion also brings sudden come-back into the family of Suji, the disinherited son and a major fraud, who ironically comes as a family saver. Actually, the things went so deep and so wrong that there is nothing that could save this family from failure. The most impressive move of a young director is an excellent occasional use of a slow motion combined with broken sounds. Nishikawa Miwa uses it to emphasize the moments of emotional tense and gets very good effects. Besides this, the soundtrack is great. It is composed by Masaru Nakamura and performed by the Cauliflowers.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Well done, Lerman!, 4 May 2006

Surprisingly fresh, frank and lively film comes from Argentine, a gloomy country in terrible political, economical and ethical state. In his feature debut brave young man Diego Lerman has shown excellent knowledge of psychology of the youngsters who found themselves in hopeless situation. From the perspective of a Bosnian spectator, whose reality is not far from Argentinean, and having a friend there I know very well how similar are our lives, the story seems exceptionally convincing and realistic.

Two lesbian punks, Mao and Lenin (their nicknames could be a separate story!), hassle an unhappy chubby girl with shocking, direct sexual invitation. Poor Marcia, threatened with a knife, is being kidnapped «in the name of love» and her life turns upside-down in a flash. Her boring, monotonous world suddenly becomes an exciting, unpredictable and sometimes even scary adventure. Development and transformations of the characters are done marvelously and black and white division of between them in the beginning of this black and white film gets newer, richer spectrum and wider variety of gray shades. What looked like a funny on-the-road film in its beginning slowly becomes a drama. Widening the focus from three teenage girls to the characters of different generations and occupations shows that nothing is as simple as it looks at the first glance. Special credits go to the old Lenin's auntie whose appearing brings genuine, sincere and deep emotions.

I am not sure whether flattering comparison with Jim Jarmusch's films gains the point. You cannot say there was nothing «Jarmuschian» in this film (i.e. fabulous scene when five characters sit together around the table after the aunt has died), but it is far from copying the probable hero. With his clear expression an evident messages, Lerman cuts deep into the womb of a society. The simple fact he sees the way out of crises in connecting, understanding and supporting within family and friends is so human and well meant. Should you see this film? You bet!

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Universal story, 4 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Two unbelievable men, true humanists and visionaries have brought their minds together to create Crimson Gold and they have made universal story about social deprivation and humiliation that could be applied in any part of the world. Truly, this is an Iranian film that looks less Iranian than any other I have seen so far. The plot could be placed anywhere in the world where people live their cheerless lives, work for miserable salaries and get humiliated every day. Moreover, Kiarostami's scenario is based upon a true event.

Hussein's job is poorly paid pizza delivery and it cannot provide him with enough money to buy simple jewels for his future wife, but can clearly show him that some other people do not have such problems. His customers often have fun with prostitutes, buy modern, expensive jewels from abroad, have parties in luxury apartments and obviously do not have money-related problems while Hussein and his best friend and future brother-in-law are not even allowed to enter the fancy jewels store. Simple man, excellently interpreted by Hossain Emadeddin, suffers quietly and does not share his frustrations with anyone, but in the act of pure despair decides to rob the store and steal the most expensive necklace. Like everything else in his sad life, this action turns the wrong way and does not bring any release but on the contrary, ends with suicide. The robbery is actual beginning of the film and it takes some time to realize that, in the real time, it is the end of the gloomy story as everything that happens later in the film progressively leads to the only possible ending.

14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A postcard from Afganistan, 4 May 2006

What made me write the comment about this film was the post signed by "ingemli". It is easy bullshitting arrogantly about this film while sitting in the air-conditioned cinema, eating pop corns and feeling sleepy. Samira Makhmalbaf went to Afganistan after the Taliban regime was toppled, and decided not to stay a silent observer of a hard life she faced with. Together with her famous father (Mohsen Makmalbaf wrote over 30 scenarios and directed about 20 films) she developed the script and was determined to film it in Afghanistan. It was difficult to find the actors, especially a native woman who would interpret the main character who shows her face, as the country lacks professional actors. Keeping all this in mind, it all ended pretty well with non-professionals. I am not telling that this film is a masterpiece, but it has its value and deserves respect. This is a tale of a young woman who, despite his father's religious fanaticism and prohibition that she goes to school, insists to get educated to become "the president of the republic". She goes to school without her father's knowledge, putting on the white high heels and uncovering her face. The shoes, actually pretty ugly and unsuitable for walking through the ruins, have strong symbolic meaning of her rebelled femininity. Ms. Makhmalbaf follows her heroine and hers family through the hard times of loosing illusions about the possibility not only for social advancement but simple survival. I knew this strange country only by bad news on TV. This film served as a window on its other, hidden side – the ordinary people's life struggle – and that's its most admiring part.

Son frère (2003)
16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Warning: patience, compassion and strong stomach needed!, 4 May 2006

If you know Chéreau mainly by his version of Alexander Dumas' novel La Reine Margot or maybe even more famous adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's Intimacy, get ready for something very different. His brother is not history based, there are no mass scenes or attractive dissolute individuals, there are no explicate sex scenes, only delicate human story of illness demystification, complicated family relationships and about love in general. You need patience, compassion and strong stomach for this film. About two thirds of the audience left the cinema before the end. I did not even think about it. I loved it. It was unforgettable. Thomas and Luc are brothers who had lost their closeness long time ago and do not keep in touch until the older one gets strange sickness. Thomas' blood cannot coagulate, doctors are not capable to help, his girlfriend leaves him, his parents argue at his bedside and the only one who stays besides him is his younger brother. Entirely confused and unprepared, in the beginning Luc resists the need to stay with his brother. In a sad hospital surrounding he meets every day a cold doctor, dense nurses and quiet, resigned patients. With no disgust, Chéreau shows plenty of ugly scars, wrinkled skin, hairs, bruises, shiners and burdensome long lasting medical procedures that are not pleasant for sure, but do prepare for death. The sequence where Luc meets nineteen-year old Manuel is astonishing. Gay-oriented man notices Manuel's big eyes and gorgeous lips, still present traces of unusual beauty. During the spontaneous chat with this cut-like-a-piece-of-meet boy full of wounds and scars Luc feels more empathy and warmth than he feels for his own brother. An affecting scene when Manuel's and Luc's hands touch will later repeat with Thomas, when closeness they used to have in their childhood is re-established between two brothers. Retrospectively mixed events unavoidably lead to the fact they are left all alone, with no partners and parents, aware of inescapable death. The act of dying will not be shown so there will be no real cathartic discharge. The right song used at the right place provokes so appalling shudders that every future listening to the same song will surely bring them back. The bitter voice of Marianne Faithful in "Sleep" from her album "A secret life", the song so beautiful and so sad conjures the climax up. This is where the soundtrack starts and ends. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, as the song says.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Emotional and visually beautiful, 9 September 2004

What attracted me to see this film was firstly the fact it came from Iraq as films from that part of the world in my country could only bee seen during the Sarajevo Film Festival – if even there. The unknown director form the unknown cinematography was challenging enough. 'Zaman…' is visually so stunning and emotionally so warm that it was it was surely worthy to give him a try. The story itself is basically simple and very sad – the main character's wife is seriously ill and needs an expensive medicine which is very difficult to find in the distant town. He leaves the reeds of his homeland to search for the medicine experiencing both humiliation and people's kindness during the long lasting journey. Even though the ending is predictably sad, there is some light at the conclusion in the comfort that Zaman gets from his adopted son. The most valuable parts of this film are tremendously beautiful photography and silently expressed feelings. Little, beautiful, touchy movie that reaches 7 out of 10.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Slavic soul, 9 September 2004

If I trusted bad-intended review from the Montreal Film Festival 2003 I would probably skip this film or better to say I would miss to see well acted and well directed emotionally tense piece of art. Luckily I had a chance to see Mitrikeski's first film 'Across the lake' seven years ago and I still remember it very well. The other part of reason that attracted me was a script by Dejan Dukovski who previously wrote a magnificent play 'Cabaret Balkan' that served as a plot for one of the best Serbian movies filmed in the late nineties, Goran Paskaljevic's 'Bure baruta'.

'Like a bad dream' has the same wide Slavic soul that was evident in 'Across the lake' and tells probably more about its director than about anything else. The story is slightly darker and more schizophrenic but again very 'Balkanic' as it retrospectively follows dysfunctional lives of people heavily affected by the recent Balkan wars. All of them are searching for love and understanding but get very little of it. Sejtan (Miki Manojlovic – outstanding as always) was recruited to the army right from his wedding and came back from the war heavily traumatized. He cannot establish communication with his devoted wife (impressive Iskra Veterova) as the flash-backs of unneeded violence towards both men and women are hunting him. Running from her he actually tries to run from himself and his memories. Instead of finding peace in Amsterdam he founds another runaway from the war, a young Ivan (very promising Ertan Saban). Ivan's professor (Robert Englund) falls in love with his gorgeous straight student and this makes story even more complicated and catastrophic.

Yes, there definitely is an absolute mess in all characters' lives, and that is probably something that a person who lives far away, on another continent, and, luckily, have no war experiences could never imagine, not to say understand. But if a person cannot understand such a problem, which is indeed a cry for a help, this does not necessarily mean that the film is worthless. Two leading actors are excellent. In some cases even the supporting players are great (Alma Prica as a nun in prison). The author does not judge, does not justify, does not try to make things not a bit nicer - just throws to the spectators' faces heavy war consequences as a warning. It might be useless; but that is what art can do. I left the cinema with quite bitter taste in my mouth, feeling so overwhelmed by strong emotions that I was barely able to speak. That is my measure for a film's quality – it has to make me FEEL. One additional trilling thing is smart use of music. The album 'Melurgia' by Anastasia, a terrific Macedonian band that became better known after the music for the Milco Mancevski's 'Before the rain', was used as entirely suitable soundtrack for the Balkan-based parts of the story. Specific mixture of traditional Macedonian rhythms, spiritual Byzantian heritage and Orthodox religious singing with use of modern technology was composed much before this film was made (1997) but its unsolved depth and unusual beauty add a sense of mystery and affliction and a bit of fear that this damn part of the world might be truly cursed. So do not trust everything you can read on www. Make your own judgment. And enjoy this powerful movie like I did.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
nothing to do with comedy, 8 August 2001

Whose sick joke was to describe this film as a comedy? It is a drama, family drama or teenage drama that does not have anything with comedy. It is pretty dark film showing typical teenagers' ways of dealing with growing up, especially when they have no support, just punishment measures from their parents. Unfortunately, sometimes it ends up tragically…

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