Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Death at the beginning, sadness in the end


                "The Casual Vacancy", J.K. Rowling's first non-Potter work and probably this year's most anticipated novel, finally found its way to my hands, and I must say I'm very glad it did. As an adult fan of Harry Potter books, I couldn't wait to read her first adult novel and, obviously, had high expectations of it. It didn't disappoint.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Living under the influence


                "Les maîtres de l'orge" (a literal translation would be "The Masters of the Barley" but the books are not yet translated to English), written by Jean Van Hamme and drawn by Francis Vallès, is one of the most lauded Franco-Belgian comic book (popularly called Bande dessinée or BD) series. It is a chronicle of the Steenfort family, one of the largest beer manufacturers in Belgium, spanning more than 140 years, from 1854 to 1997. It is told through eight episodes, the first seven bearing names of the most important family members and telling the story chronologically with gaps of twenty to thirty years between them, and the eighth one bearing the family name and filling out those gaps.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The sacrifice of an egoist


                Ralph Fiennes, a famous British actor, recently decided to step behind the camera. For his debut he chose an adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy "Coriolanus". It's a story of Roman general Caius Martius and his downfall. Martius is a member of Roman high society who looks down upon common people considering them a primitive, uneducated mob. After a victory over his arch-nemesis Tullus Aufidius from the Volscian army for which he is given a title "Coriolanus", Martius runs for Consul. But some of the tribunes don't have it in their best interest for him to be elected so they decide to use his well known contempt for people and short temper, and pit him against those who must acknowledge him as a consul, leading to his banishment from Rome. Once banished, his resentment for Rome grows so big he goes to Aufidius and offers him help in conquering the city.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The end is the beginning


                It has been fifty years since "Dr. No", the first James Bond movie came out, and to celebrate that anniversary we have before us twenty-third installment in the series, "Skyfall". For the first time in the hands of an Oscar winner (Sam Mendes), new Bond has a list of very respectable names attached to it. First draft of the screenplay was written by Peter Morgan while one of the authors of the final version is John Logan. The music is written by Thomas Newman, and Roger Deakins was handling the cinematography. The cast is surely one of the best ever, with Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney and Ben Wishaw. And of course, there's Sam Mendes at the helm. Having liked the previous two Craig's Bond movies and looking at that list of names, I was really convinced that this could be the best Bond ever. After watching it I'm not that convinced anymore.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Fragments of ourselves


                What is more important, a theme of the movie or how it is presented? That's what I wondered after watching Leos Carax's latest picture "Holy Motors". It's a movie without classical narrative but it seems to talk of many things. In it we see a man named Oscar, driven through the streets of Paris in a big limousine, assume many different roles as a part of his job. He becomes an old woman, a motion-capture actor, a dying man and a head of the family of monkeys amongst else, each of his roles having another kind of story, conveying diverse emotions and different messages. In between his roles Oscar changes clothes and make-up, talks with his chauffeur, gets a visit from who seems to be his employer, and has a chance meeting with his former love.