Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All for fun, no fun for anyone


                "Les Trois Mousquetaires" by Alexandre Dumas is probably one of the most frequently adapted novels and inspiration for numerous movies throughout the last hundred years. With so many adaptations, one gets suspicious when there's another one in the works. It must show something new, take an original approach to the story, and be great at it, to justify another adaptation. And so came "The Three Musketeers" from director Paul W. S. Anderson, known mostly for his Resident Evil movies. The approach he chose is an action-comedic one. Action, humor and CGI, those seem to be Anderson's musketeers. As the fourth one we can put in Milla Jovovich's (Anderson's wife) décolleté. But the musketeers disappoint.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Versailles uncovered


                Most of the movies set in and around the Versailles, in the time when it was still the residence of the French kings, show the building and its inhabitants in all their glory and splendor, but there are always those who take a different approach. "Les adieux à la reine" ("Farewell, My Queen"), latest movie from French director and screenwriter Benoît Jacquot, falls in the latter category. It's based on the book of the same name by Chantal Thomas, French historian and writer, and guides us through Versailles from 14th to 16th of July 1789. Those were hard days for the monarchy. 14th of July 1789 is the day the Bastille fell, which marks the beginning of the French Revolution. But Jacquot isn't interested in politics as much as in reactions of unsuspecting Versailles denizens. What we see aren't the lush and wondrous chambers and halls but rather the small, concealed and poor ones. The characters we meet are mostly servants and lower class nobility, wondering through that "other" Versailles in shock and horror, debating on news and gossip about what's happening in Paris and wondering about their uncertain fates. Amidst all of that is Sidonie Laborde, queen's reader and the main character of the movie. She seems to be the only one who's not concerned by her own fate but by that of the person that means everything to her, the queen. Sidonie worships queen and would do anything for her, but the queen, although somewhat intimate with her, holds that kind of feelings for another woman, Duchess Gabrielle de Polignac.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Got a minute?


                A study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University from 2006 showed that 2% of world population hold more than 50% of global wealth. The inequality is staggering, but most of the people really don't think that much about it. But what if the wealth was measured by the years, months, days, hours, even minutes of our lives? It's an interesting idea examined by Andrew Niccol in his latest movie "In Time". In the movie, people are genetically engineered to stop aging at 25 and get one more year after that. But the time they get is also a currency. They have to work to get it more and pay bills with it. Of course, some things always remain the same, so there's small number of people who can practically live forever and a large number of those who don't know if they'll survive another day. It should be noted that the exchange of time between two people is fairly easy. They simply hold each other's forearms and the time flows from one to the other. The direction of the flow depends on whose forearm is up and whose down. It's obvious that it makes stealing a lot easier so the rich ones need even greater protection than they need in this world. So the world (we see only north America but it's safe to assume it applies to the whole world) is divided in time zones, from the ghettos to the zones where the "immortals" live. Traveling between zones isn't illegal but is extremely rare. Every zone has its border and the price you have to pay to enter and there aren't many who can afford it, and the rich ones don't travel but live in the safety of their time zone. Different currency asks for different control system and so we're introduced to the Timekeepers, some sort of police whose job is to keep track of time and make sure each time zone has the assigned amount of time. (Now thinking about it, definitely not the job for the White Rabbit.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Living incomplete


                Yesterday we had a real treat at our local cinema. Director Etienne Faure came to introduce his new movie called "Désordres" (its international title is "Chaos", although a literal translation would be "Disorders"). The movie was finished just a couple of weeks ago and that was one of the first showings. "Désordres" tells the story about a seemingly ideal family who moved from Paris to the country, to escape the madness of the big city and come close to the nature. The husband, Vincent, is a professor of geography and history and gets a job at a local school. His wife, Marie, is a well-known pianist who quit playing at a young age and now has nothing to do but take care of their son. Not long after they settle in their new house their lives start to change with the intrusion of Thibaut, one of Vincent's students.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And though your soul it can't be bought, your mind can wander


                I recently finished reading "Schwindel. Gefühle", translated in English as "Vertigo", by W. G. Sebald. Original title is an interesting play of words. Put together, as in "Schwindelgefühle", it means "vertigo", but standing for themselves the first word also means "vertigo" while "Gefühle" means "emotions". I found it important to note because the book is filled with emotions, as was I reading it. It took me two tries at reading it to get to the end. At first I couldn't get over the first chapter. The one which tells the story of Henri Beyle, soldier and writer from the beginning of the 19th century. I have a habit of reading books late at night in my bed, before I go to sleep, and trust me when I say this book isn't meant for that kind of reading. It took me from five to ten sentences to fall asleep, and I found it nonsensical and unclear. Still, something that I can't put my finger on told me I should read it. Two or three months passed and, a few days ago, I decided to give Sebald a second chance. And I'm glad I did.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Keep your lights on


                "El Príncipe de la Niebla" ("The Prince of Mist") is the first novel by acclaimed Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Originally published in 1993, it was marked as a "young adult novel". The story which unfolds through its pages is one of friendship, growing up and first love, but also of magic, evil and fear. Running away from second world war, young Max and his family come to a seemingly idyllic small village on the Atlantic coast. But Max senses something's wrong right from the beginning when he realizes that the old clock at the train station goes backwards.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happiness is an inside job


                Norwegian movie called "Sykt lykkelig" ("Happy Happy") tells the story of two couples. Kaja and Eirik rent a house to Elisabeth and Sigve. And madness ensues. Kaja and Eirik don't have the greatest relationship. They haven't had sex for over a year, Eirik wipes his lips after kissing Kaja and prefers watching men wrestle to spending time with his wife. It pretty soon becomes clear that he is gay but isn't able to admit it to her, or to himself. In spite of it all Kaja wants to be happy and tries as much as she can. When Elisabeth and Sigve, seemingly perfect couple, arrive, it makes Kaja more happy and more miserable at the same time. But things aren't as they seem. Elisabeth cheated on Sigve and their relationship is in a crisis too. Next thing you know, practically everybody tries to hit on everybody and at the end of it all they're back at the beginning. Almost.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Barroco Tropical


                Today I finished reading a book called "Barroco Tropical" (it isn't translated in English yet, but my guess would be it would be called "Tropical Baroque") by Angolan writer and journalist José Eduardo Agualusa. I thought for some time if I should write something about it because I didn't have any idea what to write. I'm no literature expert so I can't say much about the style, the sentences, or the importance of the book for the Angolan or  African literature, or literature in general. And the plot is so convoluted and phantasmagoric it's hard to write anything about it that makes sense. But as you can see, I decided to try.

Friday, July 06, 2012



                Failed writer of witchcraft novels named Hall Baltimore comes to a small American city on his book-signing tour. There he meets a local sheriff and finds out about the mass murder that happened some years ago, one murder that happened recently (or so it seems), the clock with seven faces all showing different times and vampire (or not) kids across the lake. He decides to stay and write a new novel about all of that. Helped in his dreams by Edgar Allan Poe and a dead girl, and haunted by the memories of his deceased daughter, he tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding him and find an ending to his story.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Killer


                Have you ever thought about killing people for money? I'm not talking about some macho guy movie stuff, just being an ordinary person who, instead of teaching, selling or working in a factory, kills people to earn his daily bread. A comic book series called "Le Tueur" (The Killer) tells the story of one such person. It's French series consisting of 10 episodes so far written by Matz and drawn by Luc Jacamon. I recently read Croatian translation of first five episodes which we can call "first part" 'cause it concludes the main story.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Rock of Ages


                Let's be clear, this movie was never to be a masterpiece. Nevertheless, it should have been much, much better. Filled with (mostly) corny old songs, clichéd characters and familiar Hollywood names, altogether involved in a silly first chances/last chances story seen hundreds of times before, „Rock of Ages“ had the potential to be fun. Unfortunately, it isn't.