“Country in my genes” – Felix Van Groeningen’s emotional bluegrass rollercoaster guarantees an unforgetable ride

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“I wore jeans for killing” – can Joshua Oppenheimer’s ingenious movie concept rewrite Indosnesia’s history ?

How to advance from a ticket scalper into a death squad leader?

How can the  government’s “dirty work” be outsourced with unofficial / informal “contractors”?

What kind of clothes was the best to be worn for massacres, and what has been the most clean and efficient way to kill during a local purge?

The answers for these questions and the questions themselves can be found in J. Oppenheimer’s documentary film, that has been shown in the Panorama section of the 63rd Berlinale International Film festival.

Together with his filmmakers colleagues, Joshua Oppenheimer tried to do a documentary on the killings and massacres that took place in the 1960’s in Indonesia.

For many months, they had tried to interview the victims and the victims’ families, but they had been interrupted by they police or local authorities  every time. So it has become impossible to complete the movie the way it had been planed. In order to make a film on this infamous part of Indonesian history  they needed to try something different, something that will still tell the true story, and something that will be doable in the current political situation.

They’ve decided to ask the former death-squad leaders for a retelling (in any way they wanted) of the story from their point of view. And this concept enabled to reveal the truth about the massacres. The show-of part of their personalities exposed the crimes that had been committed.  The “war criminals” are not judged by the filmmakers in any kind of way, we just get the raw statements that we can evaluate on our own as viewers. War crimes are defined by the winners, and the status quo in Indonesia is they are celebrated for what they’ve done. Will this documentary change the official version of events from the 60’s for the Indonesian folk?  Yes, but will they be able and allowed to watch the movie without being punished?

How Don Jon Exposed himself and went to rehab

After Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s debut as a writer-director-main-character premièred at Sundance the next festival station for it was the 63rd Berlinale. Don Jon’s addiction tells a story of a modern day Don Juan, that has a certain weakness for internet porn and all the pleasures that come together with it. Despite of being a successful womaniser he still sticks to his internet “vice” which is totally normal according to him. Everything changes when he meets his “dime”…  …the relationship with the dime (played by S. Johansson) takes a different direction than it suppose to, at this particular moment Don Jon starts to befriend himself with the character played by J.Moore. Don slowly exposes himself and his vices to her and really starts to “loose himself in her”…

The plot in the movie unfolds very nicely, we also have few repetitive activities, that are skill-fully marked by the director.  Great acting performances give this  sarcastic, ironic and comedic movie about serious adult things, a great overall value. This indie production is a must see and I hope it gets released very soon, so that a wider audience can enjoy it, as I did.

Exposed is an impressive documentary about the Burlesque scene in NY.  The documentary form Beth B. is  positively surprising. In her film she presents the silhouettes of few performers that  she familiarized herself with. We also have the opportunity to watch the performances of the documentary’s characters, and they are really amazing, sarcastic, ironic, funny, thrilling, perverted, and impressive at the same time, although the language and the tools (body, nudeness, hilarious make up, dance, sarcastic humour, stand-up comedy and many more) can be crushing for some audiences. I personally admired most of the performances I was able to see on the screen.

Considering the amount of time that Beth B. and her (not always numerous) crew needed to complete the movie, we can say it is a nice piece of documentary work. More to that, you can say she gives a great cinematic-documentary-berlesque performance.

Will U still Love me tomorrow is a new movie from Arvin Chen. It touches the matter of the modern attitude to the family model in Taiwan. It shows that a marriage between straight and homosexual people is not a victimless crime. When it comes to the movie itself, it is very pleasant to watch, it has few really good moments. I was afraid it will be another gay-romance, but I was positively surprised with a very complex drama that had not been limited to the gay aspect only.

In the mood for Wing Chun

The new work of the acclaimed film maker Wong Kar Wai (WKW) is a biographic – drama settled in the martial arts world, there is no exaggeration in calling it martial-arts-drama-biography movie.

The core of every martial arts movie are the fighting/action scenes, so  lets concentrate on this for a while. If you know who Woo-ping Yuen is, and if you know what he is capable of when it comes to action scenes and fighting sequences, your subconsciousness will be giving you hints what to expect from the fighting scenes after you have seen his name in the opening credits. And they are just stunning. Brilliantly filmed by the DP and spiced with WKW’s directorial touch, you just want more and more of them. The dose of suspense in the duels (especially Gong Er vs. Ma San) is huge. Some of them felt like sword-fight-samurai-japanese-movies-duels, where you just wait who’s gonna draw first. Another great thing in the movie is assembling the martial arts and Shigeru Umebayashi’s music together – that was a master-move.

How does the movie work as a biopic? Quite well, however I had the impression that the movie is a bit to short for all the stuff that WKW wanted to have in the movie. Few sub-plots, like the “razor’s” sub-plot are really short, so you can be wondering “who the hell is this guy?”. I find the amount of  titles that explain what & when happened to whom a bit to large – this also proves that if we had couple of tens minutes more of the movie, we would have clearly gotten everything that WKW wanted to place in his film. I also observed something strange at the end of the movie, by that I mean the last few minutes – after the last scene that involves Er – suddenly we get tons of explanation titles, few cool fighting scenes and a Bruce Lee quote – all this is another evidence that there was much more stuff filmed and this stuff hasn’t made t into the final cut.

WKW’s new movie is definitely worth watching, it’s just beautiful.  I won’t hesitate to state, that this is the only Chinese contemporary movie that tells the story of Yip Man without exploiting the master’s biography for making a “wire-fu”, star-packed blockbuster.

 

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Day 1 (Day 0 is the opening day) of Berlinale, was also the day I attended the screening of TBP -AFK on. It’s a really thrilling documentary. The director of the film, a believer of free internet, unlocked the movie for watching via youtube parallel to the start of the world première screening.

3 screenings and a screenplay lecture later

After attending 3 screenings and reading the first version of the screenplay for  Django Unchained I’m curious about  a 4 hour cut of the movie. Are you curious what makes me so curious?

While the first screening of the film I have had the impression that the  movie has been “too short” and there is something missing among this riveting  and nailing-you-to-the-chair scenes.  The actual cut is very dynamic, I must admit that. However after you had read the screenplay and you have noticed that there is more, you just want to see more.

Also there are scenes that are not in the first draft of the script, but were filmed and did not make it to the movie – so we have plenty of material to watch…

…they will fit on a blu-ray nicely thanks to it’s huge capacity

There are few at least few scenes in the script that I really want to see in the movie, we even have flashes form these scenes in few trailers for Django. For few reasons they did  not make it to the theatrical cut of the film. We also  have few dialogs/monologs on the soundtrack that are not in the moive (yet), the OST has been released prior the movie premiere (at least in the US).

I’m waiting for an extended / director’s / alternative cut of the film, not because I don’t like the first one, but because I just want more of it.

 

“I’m going to wait until the film goes around the world, does what it does. And then I’m going to make a decision [about extending it],” Tarantino said. “I make these scripts that are almost novels. If I had to do this whole thing over again I would have published this as a novel and done this after the fact. Maybe next time. I could do what Kevin Costner did with the expanded edition of ‘Dances with Wolves,’ and I could very well do that. Because if I put some of that in I have to change the story. But I want this version to be the story for a while.”