Friday, January 25, 2013

Hey, let's be positive


                It's hard to make a good romantic comedy. There are dozens of them every year and they (almost) all recycle the same formula: guy meets girl, they fall in love but won't admit it, encounter some obstacles, and overcome them all to live happily ever after. There's often a little drama too, added to make for some serious moments, but rarely it bares any real weight. Seeing the trailer it was obvious to me that the same is the case with director David O. Russell's new film "Silver Linings Playbook" so I wondered how can it be that the film was nominated for an Oscar in all important categories, counting the nominations to eight. I've recently watched it and stopped wondering. Sure, it has the same formula, but Russell (who also wrote the screenplay) and his cast make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The price of success


                On May 2nd 2011, SEAL Team Six of U.S. Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden. That messed up plans of director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal who were working on a film about a years-long and unsuccessful hunt for the man. They of course changed the story and reportedly scrapped all of their previous work to start anew. The result is "Zero Dark Thirty" (a term marking time between midnight and dawn), one of the most lauded films of the year with five Oscar nominations but also one of the most controversial with its depiction of torture at CIA black sites.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fantasy will destroy power, and laughter will bury it


                I was born and still live in Rijeka, the biggest Croatian port but by global standards a really small city of less than 200 000 people. Although it's one of the biggest ports of the Adriatic sea it's a fairly unimportant city on a bigger scale, but just some hundred years ago that wasn't so. In 1918, after the end of WWI, the city of Rijeka (then called Fiume, the meaning of both names being "river") was one of the hottest points of dispute with both Italy and Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) claiming sovereignty over what was until then the main Austro-Hungarian port. It even provoked Allies to take control over the city until the negotiations were finished, with US president Woodrow Wilson being the main arbiter in the dispute. But that situation didn't last long as in September 1919 Italian poet and soldier Gabriele D'Annunzio gained control over the city with around 2 500 loyal troops. Thus was created Italian Regency of Carnaro, a self-proclaimed state with D'Annunzio at the helm which was opposed by nearly everybody, Italians included. It lasted for a little more than a year and seemingly left no marks on the future city of Rijeka but made a very peculiar and unusual historic oddity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Confess and your sins will be forgiven


                Croatian cinema isn't well known in Europe, mainly because of the war that took place here in the nineties and practically put a stop to any serious film productions. But it isn't just Europe that ignored Croatian films. Home audiences also got used to skipping them. It took a lot of time to change that and in the new millennium things started to slowly get better. It still awaits wider recognition but the productions get more numerous every year and the films get more and more diverse. Positive reviews and awards won at international festivals also encouraged people to go to the cinema and see a domestic production. Riding on that wave a new film by well known Croatian director Vinko Brešan called "Svećenikova djeca" ("The Priest's Children") came to the Croatian film theatres and made the biggest opening ever for a domestic film.

Monday, January 14, 2013



                It is awards season now and like probably most of the film lovers I'm trying to watch all of the serious contenders. The latest I've watched is Amour" ("Love"), new work from acclaimed German director Michael Haneke. The film already won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, swept the European Film Awards, and won most of the year's Best Foreign Language Film awards including a Golden Globe, as well as got nominated for five Oscars and a lot more. All of that gave me more than enough reason to view it, and the film itself gave me more than enough reason to review it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Into the realm of technology


                I must admit I'm not a loyal fan of either J.R.R. Tolkien's or Peter Jackson's work. I've read "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy long time ago, and haven't even finished watching Jackson's adaptations. I found both books and movies fun and good but nothing more. Therefore I wasn't very excited when news of "The Hobbit" adaptation finally came. Even less promising was an announcement that the book will be adapted as a trilogy of movies. Decision to go and see the first one (titled "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey") nevertheless was motivated almost entirely by the 48 fps in which Jackson decided to film it, and in the end I'm not that sorry for it.

Monday, January 07, 2013

To live is to think


                The latest Ang Lee movie, "Life of Pi", is an adaptation of a beautiful prize-winning novel of the same name written by Yann Martel. For a long time the novel was considered to be unfilmable so Lee's work was awaited with reserve, but only to thrill almost everyone upon its release.