Archive for March, 2011

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams 3D

March 25th, 2011 - admin

It is 16 years since three explorers stumbled across Chauvet cave in the Ardèche valley, southern France, the former habitat of cave bears whose footprints and scratches remain from many thousands of years ago.  There is evidence of other mammals; two wolves’ skulls were amongst the many palaeontological finds.  And there was another resident, pre-historic man, who covered the walls with red and black pictures and engravings.  Radiocarbon testing dates most of these images from 30,000 BP, twice as old as those at Lascaux cave, previously the earliest known cave art.

 

An extraordinary find by any standards but all the more remarkable for the mastery of the artwork.  Fully formed three dimensional bison, mammoths and other animals move in real space anticipating the classical period of modern man.  But most impressive of all are the truly breathtaking panels of horses, lions and rhinoceros; a new starting point for art historians, taking their place alongside the other great works in the art canon.

Great art it may be but it is not open to the general public.  Even art historians, archaeologists and other experts have very limited access during short periods each year.  There are plans to create a reproduction nearby but it could never be more than a themed history exhibition that never quite comes alive.  A necessary tragedy, it seemed, in the interests of preservation, and then entered Werner Herzog whose late oeuvre has specialised in surreal but outstanding journeys to the remote.  Somehow, and against the odds, Herzog persuaded the authorities to allow him and a small crew to film inside the chamber.  Filmed in 3D, the results are spectacular and the closest most of us will come to experiencing Chauvet in a meaningful way.

 

Herzog in his own very distinctive manner provokes reactions; sometimes direct questions but just as frequently through imaginative and knowingly fanciful possible explanations.  We search, as do Herzog and various experts, for clues about the society, culture, religion, and, most intriguing of all, the worldview of the peoples that left us with this heritage of such majestic artwork.  It is difficult to escape an overwhelming sense of absolute timelessness but nagging doubts remain as to the purity of our reactions.  We have some inner desire for these artists to communicate directly with us but, more likely, our culturally generated platonic understanding of classicism is filtering our responses.  In truth, this Palaeolithic time capsule probably does not yield any of its inner secrets; such are the fundamental differences in their mindset.

 

Herzog retains his power to shock in totally unexpected ways even when dealing with a subject that defies our expectations.  There is a sudden change of direction at the film’s close where Hertzog switches focus to crocodiles residing in a glasshouse warmed by waste heat from a nuclear power station just a few miles from the cave.  We are astonished and appalled when realising that the radioactivity of the water has mutated the crocodiles’ offspring so that they are now albino.  There you have it; the past and the future collide in a single terrifying vision.  Another masterstroke from Herzog.cheap cialis jelly buy cialis jelly cialis jelly sale generic cialis jelly

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Route Irish

March 18th, 2011 - admin

Route Irish is a notorious road linking Baghdad’s international airport to the ‘Green Zone’, a heavily fortified area that US authorities occupy within the city’s centre.  During the immediate aftermath of the Iraq invasion, it became a soft target for insurgents attacking the occupiers’ military personnel; sniper shootings, roadside bombs and inevitable causalities became a way of life with there being no alternative means of access.  The treacherous road, commonly described as the most dangerous in the world, provides the title for Ken Loach’s latest film, a taut political thriller with the emphasis on the political.  As with his previous film, it premiered at Cannes in competition.

 

Fergus, a former SAS soldier, returned to Iraq as a security guard under the employ of an independent contractor supporting the allied forces.  Exceptionally high salaries reflected the unique risks and Fergus persuaded his best mate, Franky, to sign up and earn a quick buck.  When Frankie was on the wrong end of a roadside bomb that left his body totally unrecognisable, Fergus, riddled with guilt, uncovered evidence upon his return to the UK suggesting a conspiracy.

 

Our sympathies are with Fergus but the more he uncovers, the more we realise that he is contaminated.  More to the point, Fergus is under no delusions; there can be no redemption here beyond a request for random revenge.  We see Fergus ‘water boarding’ a serviceman guilty of appalling crimes against innocent Iraqis but the slowly paced repetitive process deliberately strips it of dramatic impact.  Anybody looking for a Hollywood style contrived pay-off can forget it.  Instead, our reaction to it is physical, it is one of absolute revulsion.  This is Fergus’ world, the world of the invasion, the world of the war against terror.  But now these are scenes taking place in down town Liverpool; somehow all the more shocking for being in our backyard where we cannot bury our heads in the sand.

 

We piece together events retrospectively with everything unfolding at a personal level.  Fergus’ almost homoerotic relationship with Franky explains the intensity of his reaction.  An Iraqi translator’s resigned reaction to a senseless murder of a compatriot caught on a mobile phone is tragic.  There was no need to implicate national governments at a higher level; far better to increase the audience’s identification than make obvious connections.

 

Mark Womack superbly captures Fergus’s self loathing and desperate quest for the truth.  Liverpool’s stand-up comedian, John Bishop, is also very good in his feature debut as the laid back Franky terrified when faced with the reality of Route Irish. Chris Menges cinematography impressively captures war-torn Iraq and the affluent parts and run-down backstreets of Liverpool.  And long-term Loach collaborator, Paul Laverty, provides a convincing streetwise screenplay.

 

Loach’s film has much to say about independent contractors profiteering from an unjust war, their almost total exemption from responsibility for their actions and the frequent contempt for the local inhabitants.  The Cannes premiere passed with little attention and, by the time of the film’s screening at the London Film Festival, it had already taken its place within the Loach canon without due consideration.  It seems unrealistic to expect its UK theatrical release to improve its fortunes.dapoxetine buy australiaviagra dapoxetine online purchasegeneric inderalcost of propranololpropranolol for salepropranolol cost walmart

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Granito: How To Nail A Dictator

March 15th, 2011 - admin

It is almost 20 years since Pamela Yates together with co-director and cinematographer, Thomas Sigel, and producer and editor, Peter Kinoy, received a Special Jury Prize at the first ever Sundance for their landmark political documentary, When the Mountains Tremble.  The documentary set a new benchmark for investigative filmmaking, playing a significant role in drawing attention to the slaughter of 200,000 indigenous Native American Mayan population at the hands of the death squads of dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt.

Rigoberta Menchú, whose own father and brother were victims of the death squads, narrated the film in an act of deliberate defiance.  She subsequently joined forces with international campaigns fighting the Guatemalan dictatorship’s genocide and her tireless and telling contributions gave rise to her being the first Native American to receive the Nobel peace prize in 1992.  The hostilities continued until 1996 but this was not the end of the matter for Menchú who instigated a Spanish war crimes tribunal against Guatemala’s former leaders.

 

Legal technicalities delayed the tribunal process and it was not until 2006 that it demanded the extradition of the most prized head of all, General Montt and other key members of his regime.  In an unprecedented move, Adams re-visited the many hours of footage shot for the earlier documentary as possible evidence for the tribunal and began to film the process.  A new documentary was born, in effect, a sequel to the original, which was part a new investigation and part a re-appraisal/re-contextualisation of the earlier footage.

 

The first film finished on a positive note with a crescendo of three positive scenes leading to a Mayan freedom fighter confidently declaring that his people would rise and defeat the dictatorship.  Things did not work out that way and there was a sustained period of rebels ‘disappearing in the night’.  Adams now turns her camera towards the ongoing efforts to uncover the truth, to discover the lost history.  We see extracts from official records outlining police initiatives, we hear personal testaments from relatives of the missing and we see Freddie, a new Mayan hero, ignoring death threats, to excavate bodies.

 

This is a society paralysed by paranoia which has yet to come to terms with the dictatorship years.  Memories are trapped in the nation’s collective psyche conditioned to remaining mute.  So much so, that the perpetrators of the crimes continue to live in Guatemala without any immediate prospect of its own Government prosecuting, an extraordinary inaction that led to the Spanish tribunal finally intervening.  They retain a power base, they retain the power to threaten and we fear for Freddie.

 

Montt is hoist by his own petard where, in a completely different context, he provides a compelling case for being totally in control of the army during his period of power.  Now, the Spanish tribunal hold the Army’s astonishingly detailed records of the strategy and execution of its systematic extermination of Mayan villages.  Montt exposed; his boasting words reverberating like a confession.

 

Also guilty is the paranoid Reagan administration.  At best reckless and at worst complicit, telling footage of US propaganda supporting and praising the Guatemalan dictatorship in the fight against Communism beggars belief.  Worse still is the US financial support; the part bank-rolling of the regime.

 

As with the first film, it is the scenes of the massacred civilians and the survivors’ grief that provide the most powerful moment.  Now, though, we watch a Guatemalan audience viewing the film for the first time; their jaw dropping looks of silent horror speak louder than any words.

 

The film’s conclusion is again upbeat but in a very different way to the original.  This is the Mayans recovering their past, coming to terms with the horrors and ‘nailing’ Montt with a maturity that testifies to their suffering.  Each piece of the new evidence, every development, the film itself, are all ‘grains of sand’ playing their part, accumulating into a formidable, and we hope, decisive whole.generic cialis tadalafil 20mg reviewscost ofgeneric cialis oral jelly order cialis jelly cialis jelly uk cialis jelly online australia

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Norwegian Wood

March 11th, 2011 - admin

A filmic adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s acclaimed novel, Norwegian Wood, was never going to be straightforward, but in the hands of Vietnamese filmmaker, Tran Anh Hung, the microscopic portrayal of the devastating impact of a teenager’s suicide proves to be an involving and beautiful psychodrama.

 

The film is set in 1960’s Tokyo.  A Japanese woman recovering from a breakdown plays a charming acoustic version of the Beatles classic that gives the film its title.  The innocent and pure interpretation accentuates the ethereal quality of the original that is fully in tune with the dreamy consciousness of the film’s characters.  There is a timelessness here, a certain distance from reality which sits outside of Japan’s contemporaneous political unrest and student demonstrations.

 

Watanabe is the film’s narrator, as an adult recalling this earlier time where he is torn between two strikingly attractive girls who are binary opposites in almost all other respects.  One is the traumatised former girlfriend of his best friend who committed suicide when at High School with whom he shares an intense grief.  The other is a very knowing, emancipated young girl about town unafraid of using her sex appeal tactically.  Along the way, a dodgy roommate, superficially sophisticated but entirely selfish, and noticeably Westernised, demonstrates a third alternative; one that disrespects women and prioritises personal gratification at all cost.

 

Watanabe undergoes a journey of a kind but it is on the various diversions from the norm that he negotiates the conflicting forces at play.  The narrative explores very adult themes – guilt, loss and death and their relationship to sex – but filtered through a mind prematurely exposed to their significance.  Meanings are open with their context providing no more than possibilities and we sense that Tran is inviting us to share Watanabe’s bewilderment and alienation as we seek clarity.

 

Outstanding Ping Bin Lee (Three Times, Café Lumière, In the Mood for Love) is on board and, as we have come to expect, his cinematography is striking, here filtered through a series of tracking shots.  The musical score compliments and adds to the mood, intelligently composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.  And Rinko Kikuchi is particularly impressive as the damaged schoolgirl but all of the young cast is convincing.generic cialis pillsbuy cialis in usaampicillin stock ampicillin mechanism of action ampicillin for uti ampicillin and sulbactam

 

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Patagonia

March 4th, 2011 - admin

When a road movie contains two stories with characters travelling in opposite directions, usually it explores various contemporary aspects of globalisation.  Not so in Marc Evans’ new feature where cross-over parallel pilgrimages focus on two linked communities in different continents that exist in spite of integration elsewhere.

 

With English influence/interference threatening the Welsh language and customs, nationalists formed a colony in Patagonia 150 years ago as a little Wales in pure form.  The Welsh speaking community remains today almost as a post modern living museum of the nation’s heritage; a point not lost on the National Assembly of Wales, which has not been slow to develop promotional packages.

 

But a legacy from the past is not the same thing as identity, with the relationship between the two being complex and deceptive.  Like separated siblings, there are powerful connections and notable differences as the territories evolve independently.  It is a semi-fission that hangs heavy over Evans’ reflective and seemingly heartfelt personal film.

 

An ageing woman from the colony visits Wales, against the odds, desperately seeking a spiritual connection with her deceased mother before it is too late.  A troubled photographer travels in the opposite direction searching for an understanding of his roots amongst the enigmatic historical churches of Patagonia.  But the past proves elusive, unwilling to yield its secrets, only hinting at earlier times almost beyond their comprehension.

 

Both have companions who embark on personal journeys of their own; one a coming-of-age romance in the Welsh valleys for the lady’s attentive young carer and the other an illicit affair amongst the Patagonian lowlands literally under the nose of the silently suffering photographer.  Happiness is fleeting for the companions in unfamiliar territories with cultural ties proving stronger than personal attachments; we sense the unseen hand of history yanking at the leash.

 

The characters discover greater clarity but not necessarily self-fulfilment.  The ideals of the past seem to stifle the colony and it is only in the homeland that Welsh culture comes alive in any meaningful way.  Whether this was Evans’ intention when embarking upon the project is another matter but an upbeat final scene does nothing to transform the poignant tone running through the remainder of the film.

 

There are solid performances from all the cast including a short but very natural turn from Duffy as the love interest in the Wales story.  And an especial mention goes to cinematographer, Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, Red Road) for the arresting imagery that superbly captures the austere splendour of the Patagonian terrain.

 

A welcome addition to the small collection of Welsh language movies that may prove to be a slow burner growing with popularity over time.why does cialis cost so muchgeneric cialis vs brand cialisyasmin 21 comprimidos yasmin for pcos generic for yasmin yasmin dosage

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Archipelago

March 4th, 2011 - admin

Joanna Hogg went against the grain with her refreshing first feature, Unrelated, combining the filmic austerity and deftness of touch of ‘objective reality’, in the André Bazin sense, with a very British look at the mores, inhibitions and metaphoric phobias of the upper middle class.  Subtle and decidedly accomplished, it did not pass without recognition winning the coveted International Federation of Film Critics’ (FIPRESCI) award at the London Film Festival 2009.

 

Hogg returns to the same territory for her follow-up Archipelago.  The characters are ‘unrelated’ certainly and from the same social strata but it is emotionally cooler, the film style starker and Hogg’s voice even more distinctive.  Gone are the more obvious nods to Ozu, Rohmer and other masters of world cinema; this is Hogg establishing herself as an auteur of note.

 

The archipelago of the film’s title is the Scilly Isles off the western tip of the Cornish peninsula.  This is the Scilly Isles at the cusp of autumn and winter where the windswept bleak landscape signals the end of the tourist season.  All is very beautiful but distant and remote; a perfect backdrop for self-absorbed characters as unconnected as the Isles themselves.

 

Hogg again casts the impressive Tom Hiddleston (Oakley in Unrelated).  Here he plays Edward, a twenty something unfocused idealist, who has walked away from a highly-paid city job to volunteer for a year in Africa promoting safe(r) sex.  He joins his overbearing mother (Kate Fahy) and prickly sister, Cynthia (Lydia Leonard) for a farewell family holiday of sorts.

 

Christopher Baker, an artist friend of Hogg, plays a landscape painter with the same Christian name who comes along to provide painting lessons for the ladies.  He shares his artistic philosophy, which we assume is Baker being self-referential in a blurring of fiction and reality.  He advocates neat and organised paintings with room for the odd random element to provide unexpected ‘chaos’; an approach that could serve to describe the Camden Town Group, Bloomsbury and the St Ives 2nd Gen painters’ very British take on more progressive elements elsewhere.  It also has parallels to Hogg’s filmmaking process where her flexible screenplay allows huge scope for the actors to improvise; Baker’s dialogue being a case in point.

 

Neither is there any shortage of chaos within these characters’ lives although of a very internalised kind, constrained by middle class reserve.  All is smiles, hugs and polite chat at first before the tensions rise to the surface.  The family have employed a maid for the trip and we share her embarrassment witnessing the futile squabbles that, judging by the nervous laughter, touched an uncomfortable nerve with many in the audience.

 

Particularly well done is Edward & Cynthia regressing into childhood once back in the family fold.  Sometimes, this is so subtle as to be barely discernible; Edward momentarily cruising on a bike with a self-conscious speed variance so typical of a child when riding for riding’s sake.

 

Absences are so important here that characters who never appear on screen take on almost the same significance as the main protagonists.  There is the husband who keeps making his excuses for not attending, which gives rise to a wonderful mega outburst from the mother; one of those where she carefully shuts the door prior to taking the call and then proceeds to shout so loud as to be audible in mainland Cornwall.  And then there is Edward’s girlfriend banned from attending as she is not ‘family’ or, at least, not according to Cynthia’s definitions.  Neither is Christopher though who, interestingly, takes on the role of surrogate father and, we feel, could so easily be far more.  And nor is the maid for that matter; Edward’s target for a surrogate girlfriend before she legs it.  Watch out for a wonderful scene where the family takes the maid out to dinner, which, amongst the musical chairs of indecision when determining where to sit and Cynthia’s excruciating backfire “demand to see the chef complaint”, the audiences’ nervous laughter went up a notch or two.  This is wretched bourgeois family holiday territory of a very familiar kind.

 

There is no shortage of interesting gender play going on.  Whether intentional or otherwise, both Edward & Christopher are very gentle, assuming traits that cinema often/usually defines as feminine and, vice a versa for the female characters.  There is no particular point to any of this other than simply to reflect the way that things often are in wider reality.  How intriguing it would be if these characters simply evolved this way without regard to the gender implications?

 

We are aware that the family have removed a painting from the living room, this is a deliberate signpost for latent symbolism that Hogg withholds until the film’s close.  When the family return the painting on departure, we see a turbulent seascape, all chaos, all revealed.

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Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

March 4th, 2011 - admin

Eliot Spitzer was the hero of the left wing, a modern day untouchable, who, as New York State’s attorney general, led a one man mission to expose political and financial corruption.  After he was elected Governor four years ago with the State’s largest ever electoral mandate, few would have bet against his being the next Democratic presidential candidate.  And then, out of the blue, the New York Times ran a report linking Spitzer to organised prostitution.  Two days later he resigned in disgrace with his political and legal career seemingly at an end.

 

Spitzer was guilty of gross hypocrisy, a breach of public trust that was incompatible with high office.  Having successfully prosecuted a prostitution ring, lust overpowered his better judgement in the most spectacular way and he employed the services of a high-end escort agency paying a staggering $1,000 an hour for the ‘girlfriend experience’.  But this was the same politician that not only predicted the credit crunch crisis without the benefit of hindsight but identified the very practices that threatened to make the cyclic downturn of Capitalism far more severe than was necessary.

 

The prospect of Alex Gibney carrying out a post-mortem was intriguing.  Gibney is an investigative filmmaker who throws a very hard punch; few films during recent years have had the jaw dropping impact of his exploration into US sanctioned torture than Taxi To The Dark Side.  Even that most conservative of institutions, the American Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded it the Oscar for best documentary.  And now Gibney was turning his penetrating eye towards one of his own, a flawed hero, somebody worthy of scorn and admiration at one and the same time.

 

Gibney did not hold back.  There was a very thorough investigation into the seedy Spitzer, as the escort agency’s mysterious Client 9.  Very striking was the ease with which the agency could sidestep the most probing of questions with a politicians knack for creating a virtual world, one where it was possible to rationalise almost anything.  Far more direct though was Spitzer himself.  As we might expect from a man metaphorically caught with his trousers down, there were no excuses, but far more surprising, was the omission of any show of remorse.  Spitzer clearly distinguished between his ideals and his own failings in a manner that was intellectually ruthless and rather disturbing.

 

But the investigation did not end there.  Gibney picked his way through extremely serious corporate crimes of the kind that eluded most law enforcers but caught the attention of the eagle eyed Spitzer.  We were struck by the total absence of corporate governance and statutory control as price rigging, bogus lending and other frauds on Wall Street destabilised world markets on a huge scale.  Top of Spitzer’s most wanted list was the v(olat)ile former chairman of A.I.G, Hank Greenberg, who may now regret his contributions to Gibney’s film.  Struggling to retain any credibility, we were left wondering whether with this was a major operator who had lost his touch or a former power broker unable to stand on his own two feet without his previous corporate influence.

 

And then there was the political corruption in Albany.  Spitzer had launched a full scale attack on the long-term Republican leader, Joseph L. Bruno for his alleged part in Troopergate, the use of public helicopters for personal use.  Bruno, a former boxer and well known political bruiser, proved a formidable opponent and we sense that Spitzer was more effective as an attorney general than a governor.

 

Spitzer’s enemies were more than willing to participate in talking heads, a ready made opportunity to gloat and dance on Spitzer’s political grave.  Ken Langone went further, he had something else on his mind.  With a smile as broad as the Hudson River, he sardonically bragged that one of his associates had coincidently stood in a Post Office queue when Spitzer ordered $2,800 worth of mail orders for sending to the escort agency.  He may as well have winked at the camera.  This  former director of the New York Stock Exchange had employed P.I.’s, he had played a key role in Spitzer’s downfall and he wanted us to know.  But this raised a whole host of new questions when considered alongside the official investigation of the escort agency, which, strangely, did not seem to focus on its other clients.  To what extent did the FBI, the IRS and the Justice Department use public funds Troopergate style to assist influential Wall Street and Albany parasites in ‘whacking’ Spitzer in the political sense?  Who employed leading political tactician/destroyer, Roger Stone to run the ‘black socks’ dirty tricks campaign as Spitzer’s final public humiliation?  And why were the authorities so keen to investigate Spitzer and not the many sleazebags who had wreaked havoc in the world economy?buy cialis paypal paymentgeneric cialis 100mgsildalis cheapcheap sildalis sildalischeap sildalis online

 

This is distasteful stuff, the dark side of Wall Street and domestic US politics.  A telling and engaging account of the decade when the major players lost control of their power games. help me write my essay with https://essay4today.com/