25 February 2013

Alla biglietteria del trenino di Fiumicino aeroporto (seconda puntata)

Biglietteria automatica n. 1

Rieccomi a cercare di fare un biglietto alla stazione del trenino che da Fiumicino mi porterà in città. Ci avevo già provato, senza successo, l'ultima volta che ero venuto a Roma, qualche settimana fa. Stavolta la terribile macchina bigliettatrice automatica mi ha accolto così come si può vedere nella foto qui sopra. Nessuna connessione al sistema. Almeno non mi ha chiesto se volevo comunque pagare il prezzo del biglietto senza riceverlo, come l'altra volta.

Biglietteria automatica n. 2
Indomito, mi sono recato presso un'altra biglietteria automatica poco lontano, ed ecco qui sopra il risultato. La macchina si connette al sistema ma si rifiuta di vendermi un biglietto per i prossimi treni: "non vendibile". Forse è regalabile? Rubabile? Mah!

A quel punto ho notato due biglietterie umane e mi sono avvicinato. Davanti alla prima una lunga fila, mentre nessuno davanti all'altra. Provo a comprare un biglietto dalla bigliettaia senza fila e la gentile signorina mi chiede 16 euro. Sapevo che il biglietto costava 14 euro, e le ho chiesto spiegazioni. Mi ha risposto che quello è il prezzo della biglietteria pubblica, noi siamo privati e lo vendiamo a 16 euro! Per chi fosse interessato a spendere 2 euro in più per il biglietto l'agenzia si chiama "365".

Rassegnato, ho fatto la fila alla biglietteria pubblica, impiegando circa dieci minuti. Infatti il bigliettaio di turno, con il suo stentato inglese, stava cercando di rimorchiare due ragazze russe che gli chiedevano informazioni. Il tutto mi ha fatto perdere il primo treno per Termini, che la lasciato il binario davanti al mio naso. Ho dovuto aspettare ancora mezz'ora, in piedi, nel terminal non riscaldato, prima di salire sull'agognato trenino Leonardo Express.

Per rasserenarci ecco un paio di bei libri sui treni del tempo che fu!

19 February 2013

Film review: Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) by Rob Marshall, *****


An adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel by the director of Chicago, Rob Marshall, transports us into a mysterious and exotic world that casts a potent spell. A Cinderella story like no other, Memoirs of a Geisha stars Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li.

The director of Chicago, Rob Marshall, transports us into a mysterious and exotic world that casts a potent spell. A Cinderella story like no other, this film takes the viewer to Japan in the late 1930s to discover what role geishas played in high society. We can follow the life of a young girl whose family sells to be a maiko (apprentice geisha) in an okiya, a geisha house. She has to put up with a lot (jealousy, competition, envy) before finally becoming a full geisha.


Wonderful photography in this film, not hard to guess it won Dion Beebe a cinematography Oscar. Ditto for the costumes by Colleen Atwood. It is a long film, but it flows fast and you are left at the end wanting for more.

The film has been banned in China as too sensitive, probably because of Chinese actresses being employed in the role of geishas, seen as degrading in China.

Memorable quote, the Chairman to Sayuri: «We must not expect happiness, Sayuri. It is not something we deserve. When life goes well, it is a sudden gift; it cannot last forever!»

Bonus contents are also very well made and add a lot of value to this BD:
-Geisha Bootcamp (See how the actresses became geishas),
-Building the Hanamachi (Behind-the-scene documentary),
-The Look of a Geisha (Inside the wardrobe and make-up),
-The music (composer John Williams take you through his approach to the score),
-and other background material on Japan and "making of" the film.

Buy your European BD here.

Buy your US BD here

You can buy the book on which this film is based here

17 February 2013

Film review: Born into Brothels (2004) by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, ****

"Running" by Gour, 13 years old

The most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red light district are not the prostitutes, but their children. In the face of abject poverty, abuse, and despair, these kids have little possibility of escaping their mother's fate or for creating another type of life. Directors Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman chronicle the amazing transformation of the children they come to know in the red light district. Briski, a professional photographer, gives them lessons and cameras, igniting latent sparks of artistic genius that reside in these children who live in the most sordid and seemingly hopeless world. The photographs taken by the children are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reflect something much larger, morally encouraging, and even politically volatile: art as an immensely liberating and empowering force.

The winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, Born into Brothels offers a tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art. Devoid of sentimentality, Born into Brothels defies the typical tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spends years with these kids and becomes part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities or primitive imagery, and a true testimony of the power of the indelible creative spirit.

15 February 2013

Film Review: Confucius (2010) by Hu Mei, ****


From the acclaimed producer of John Woos Red Cliff and Jet Lis Warlords, comes this powerhouse biopic of the legendary Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

In 500 B.C., during China's Spring and Autumn Period, Kong Ze (Confucius), a commoner reverred for his outstanding wisdom, is made Minister of Law in the ancient Kingdom of Lu. Under his inspired leadership, Lu ascends to new heights but becomes a target of conquest for the warlike nation of Qi. Threatened with annihilation by their powerful neighbour, a desperate people turn to their greatest teacher to lead their most powerful army. When Confucius delivers a stunning victory against all odds, a jealous aristocracy sets out to destroy him, but they under-estimated a remarkable man whose wisdom is more powerful than the sword.

With breathtaking cinematography from Oscar-winning director of photography, Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Confucius is a compelling invitation to discover the remarkable story of one of history's greatest heroes.


An impressive big budget movie that will teach you a lot about Confucius and China in the VI-V centuries B.C. Huge sets have been build to replicate imperial palaces and other scenery. Acting is excellent, with Chow Yun-fat at his best.

The script is a bit confusing however, maybe it needs to be watched a few times. Too many intrigues and intertwined stories make it hard to follow.

For travelers, the most famous of innumerable quotes by Confucius is «A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

You can watch the theatrical trailer here.

You can see a selection of movies on China I have reviewed on this blog here.

07 February 2013

Film review: The Thin Red Line (1998), by Terrence Malick, ****


After directing two of the most extraordinary movies of the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, American artist Terrence Malick disappeared from the film world for twenty years, only to resurface in 1998 with this visionary adaptation of James Jones’s 1962 novel about the World War II battle for Guadalcanal. A big-budget, spectacularly mounted epic, The Thin Red Line is also one of the most deeply philosophical films ever released by a major Hollywood studio, a thought-provoking meditation on man, nature, and violence. Featuring a cast of contemporary cinema’s finest actors—Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking, Milk), Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides, Affliction), Elias Koteas (Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, The People vs. Larry Flynt) among them—The Thin Red Line is a kaleidoscopic evocation of the experience of combat that ranks as one of cinema’s greatest war films.

06 February 2013

Film Review: September (1987), by Woody Allen, ***


It is late summer, and Lane (Mia Farrow), still fragile after a nervous breakdown, is staying at her childhood home in Vermont. She has been having an affair with Peter (Sam Waterston), a writer who lives nearby, but now relations between them seem to have inexplicably cooled. When Lane's mother (Elaine Stritch) arrives with unexpected news, and the fate of her relationship with Peter becomes clear, Lane's emotional world is thrown into turmoil once again. Written and directed by Woody Allen.


Another Allen movie about the volatility and relative meaninglessness of it all, September is not as rich of dry humor and effective punch lines as some of his other films. He investigates jealousy, bitterness, betrayal, love, but it is all not as deep as seen elsewhere in Allen's prolific filmography.

My favorite quote: "Universe is haphazard, morally neutral and unimaginably violent." I tend to agree. Watch the clip below.

I got this movie in this box set