Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

10 May 2018

Film review: Youth (2017) by Feng Xiaogang, *****

Synopsis

When Xiaoping joins the military, delicate dreams are dashed by the events of a China undergoing revolution. The devastating Sino-Vietnamese war crashes into 1970s China, changing the lives of the Army's young new recruits forever.

In this epic spanning several decades, Youth shows Comrades of the People's Liberation Army fight amongst themselves as much as on the battlefield – and cause as much damage as the war that tore their lives apart.


Review

Incredibly passionate and captivating historical film about life in China during the huge transformations that took place after Mao's death. A love story starts during the excesses of the cultural revolution with the "great helmsman" still in power, and the trauma of the war against Vietnam in 1979. After that, rapid reforms make many Chinese rich, and many officials corrupt, but the human story of the protagonists carries through the ages. One man's good deeds are taken for granted and not appreciated any more.

The film was supposed to be released just before the 2017 party congress but it was held up until after the congress itself for some reason. Maybe because it contains thinly veiled criticism of Mao and also raises many questions about the new system of the country.

A strongly recommended film about how China became what it is today.

See other film on China reviewed in this blog.






29 August 2017

Film review: A United Kingdom (2016) by Amma Asante, *****

Synopsis

From director Amma Asante, starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike and set against the breath-taking backdrops of the African savannah and period London, A United Kingdom celebrates the inspiring real-life romance of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1948 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.


Review

A historical narrative of one sad page of the decline and fall of the British Empire after WW II. There are two levels to the story: a personal tale of love and a non-fiction account of the birth of a new African country.

Churchill is depicted for what he was: an anti-democratic imperialist, who would go back on his promises to try and salvage the decomposing British empire. But the prejudice of blacks against whites is displayed as well at length.

In the face of all these difficulties, it was a remarkable feat for the young leader to pull off a national reconciliation that would make Botswana a unique success story in post-colonial Africa. One of very few examples where the leaders who took over power from the colonial rulers actually improved their nation's lot and did not squander national resources for personal gain.

Highly recommended movie to understand a very special part of Africa.










06 June 2017

Recensione libro: Tramonto alle Maldive (1993) by Anne Weale, ***

Sinossi

Le Maldive: spiagge bianche profumate d'Oriente... Pur conoscendo per motivi professionali tutti i possibili inconvenienti tecnici di una crociera alle Maldive, l'accompagnatrice turistica Charlotte non può certo accettare di condividere la stessa cabina con un uomo, anche se l'affascinante Dean sarebbe un ottimo compagno di stanza per le sue vacanze. E infatti, qualche giorno dopo...


Recensione

Il romanzo è ambientato alle Maldive, ma potrebbe essere anche altrove. Mare tropicale, caldo, sensualità e un triangolo amoroso sono gli elementi principali della storia che si snoda piacevolmente tra spiagge, barche e noci di cocco. Il lettore che non sia mai stato alle Maldive viene portato per mano per le isole e può assaporare qualche assaggio dell'atmosfera locale. La storia in se stessa è un po' prevedibile, ed il finale quasi scontato, ma ciononostante mi ha fatto piacere leggerla. Alcuni dei personaggi sono dipinti a colori vividi e realistici.


29 December 2016

Film review: Alamar (2009) by Pedro Gonzalez Rubio, ***

Synopsis

Jorge and Roberta have been separated for several years. They simply come from opposite worlds: he likes an uncomplicated life in the jungle, while she prefers a more urban existence. He is Mexican and she is Italian, and she has decided to return to Rome with their five-year-old son, Natan. Before they leave, Jorge wishes to take young Natan on a trip, hoping to teach him about his Mayan origins in Mexico. At first the boy is physically and emotionally uncomfortable with the whole affair, and gets seasick on the boat taking them to their destination. But as father and son spend more time together, Natan begins a learning experience that will remain with him forever.


Review

The real life of a family of mixed ethnic background. Or, rather, of what could have been a family but wasn't. Not sure what the point is about this film. You can get a glimpse of a lesser known part of Mexico, yes, and pristine waters along the Banco Chinchorro, one of the largest and most stunning coral reefs in the world. But then what? The little kid is going to grow up and probably wonder what were his parents thinking when they made him. What was his mother, especially, thinking to get pregnant with a man she knew she could never live with. Or perhaps she could have but she did not want to. She preferred her cosy life in Rome to giving her son a family. The father too, he might have moved to Rome, but didn't. Maybe the movie is an indictment of irresponsible love adventures by careless travelers, and if so maybe it does have a purpose after all. Beautiful photography.


You can buy this film here.

18 November 2016

Film review: Tokyo Sonata (2008) by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, ****

Synopsis

Kiyoshi Kurosawa the hugely acclaimed Japanese director famous for his groundbreaking, existential horror films such as Cure and Kairo [Pulse] set Cannes alight in 2008 with this highly topical film: an eerie, poignant reflection on the mass uncertainty sweeping the world.

When Ryuhei Sasaki (played by Teruyuki Kagawa) is unceremoniously dumped from his safe company job, his family's happy, humdrum life is put at risk. Unwilling to accept the shame of unemployment, the loyal salaryman decides not to tell anyone, instead leaving home each morning in suit and tie with briefcase, spending his days searching for work and lining up for soup with the homeless. Outstanding performances; serene, elegant direction; and Kurosawa's trademark chills are evident as he ratchets up the unsettling atmosphere and the grim hopelessness of Sasaki's unemployment.


SPECIAL DUAL FORMAT EDITION:
  • Gorgeous 1080p Blu-ray transfer in the original aspect ratio
  • Making Of documentary [61:00]
  • Q&A, Tokyo, September 2008 [12:00]
  • Première footage, Tokyo, September 2008 [15:00]
  • DVD discussion [9:00] UK trailer [3:00]
  • 28-page colour booklet with a new essay by B. Kite


Review


It is a film that took me some time to appreciate. At first it was actually boring. At the end it was riveting! You can see a traditional male-dominated Japanese family where the father is actually more concerned with preserving his wobbling authority, and face, than with the well being of his wife and sons. He loses his job to outsourcing to China, and can not pick himself up again. His elder son is a bit naive and wants to find purpose by joining the US military, only to be sent to the Middle East and change is view of the world after seeing the horrors of war. His house wife tried to make things work in the family but is constantly sidelined by the father.

The only member of the family who turns out to have a clue is the youngest son, who dreams of becoming a pianist and takes lessons in secret when he is forbidden to do so. In the end, his dreams are the only realistic prospects for the family and his success helps the father find his way once again.

The moral: follow your dream with passion and determination and be humble, true and honest to yourself.










16 February 2016

Il giorno del fidanzamento

Fidanzamento subacqueo a Bunaken, Indonesia. Si sa che le donne amano le sorprese, e questa volta mi sono sorpreso anche io!


25 November 2015

Film review: Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), by Zhang Yimou, ****

Synopsis

From Zhang Yimou, the Director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, comes a stunning epic about the folly of war and the disintegration of one family under the weight of unrequited love, unforgivable betrayals, and a never-ending thirst for power.

On the eve of the Chong Yong Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace and when the Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) unexpectedly returns to his Empress (Gong Li) and two sons, the tension is clear in his lavish kingdom. His absence has given rise to illicit love affairs, dangerous alliances, and malicious conspiracies; all of which threaten to overthrow his power.

However, it may well be the Emperor’s own dark secret that threatens him most of all. As the secrets of the Imperial family unravel against this backdrop of breathtaking opulence and grandeur, an attack on the Palace by myriad armoured warriors results in a spectacular climax wrought with thrilling action and epic tragedy.

Interesting bonus features on the main actors and backstage.


Review

Another grand movie by Zhang Yimou with a sure-fire couple of protagonists in Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li). It will be a masterpiece for the lovers of wuxia and, more generally, of Chinese epic films. I am not, but liked the movie as well for the majestic historical reconstruction (a whole new Forbidden City) and marvellous costumes. Grand scenes of battle, with over one thousand extras (appropriately recruited in the Chinese army!) are memorable if utterly unrealistic.

What a sad life in the palace. From the Emperor to  the most humble of servants, everyone is watching everyone else, there is no privacy, no trust, no happiness really. I can't remember anyone smiling in this film! It makes you thank your fate for not being born a royalty in medieval China!

The western blurb for the movie (but not the Chinese) advertises it as taking place in the period of the late Tang dynasty. I was a bit disappointed because I expected more of a historical film about the Tang dynasty. I was led to think of this as a historical fiction, and it really is not.

See my selection of movies on China here in this blog.

You can buy the film here. Other films by Zhang Yimou here.



In the US and worldwide buy it here:



If you liked it, you may wish to look at other films by Zhang Yimou



11 August 2015

Film review: Three times (2005) di Hou Hsiao Hsien, ***

Taipei temple
Sinossi

Un film diviso in tre episodi in cui si riflette sulla impossibilita' dell'amore.

1911, Dadaocheng. il tempo della liberta'. il padrone di una piantagione di tè e suo figlio vogliono riscattare il contratto di una giovane cortigiana. avendo capito che la ragazza aspetta un bambino dal figlio, m. chang cerca di accelerare le trattative. la ragazza intanto diventa la concubina del padre e m. chang va in Giappone a raggiungere un rivoluzionario cinese in esilio.

1966, Kaohsiung. il tempo dell'amore. chen incontra may, che lavora in una sala da biliardo che lui frequenta con regolarita'. i due giovani giocano una partita insieme poco prima che lui parta per il servizio militare. durante un permesso, chen torna a trovarla ma lei sembra essere scomparsa.

2005, Taipei. il tempo della giovinezza. Jing e' epilettica e sta perdendo progressivamente la vista dall'occhio destro. abita con la madre e la nonna ed ha un'avventura con una donna, michy. Zhen lavora in un negozio di foto digitali ed abita con blue, la sua ragazza. quando lei scopre che lui la tradisce con Jing, diventa folle di rabbia. che futuro avranno questi quattro giovani? Almeno uno di loro potra' avere una vita serena?

Taipen night market

Recensione

Non il miglior film del regista di Taiwan Hou Hsiao-Hsien a mio parere. Parte con un ritmo difficile e stenta a decollare. È interessante la sequenza storica: la "prima volta" è il 1966, la seconda è il 1911 (si parla dialetto Hokkien sotto occupazione coloniale giapponese) e la terza nella moderna Taiwan degli anni sessanta del XX secolo (si parla mandarino).


Ho trovato difficile entrare nel film, ma penso sia comunque utile a capire alcuni aspetti della storia di Taiwan, questa isola cinese che da oltre un secolo è separata dalla madrepatria.














17 July 2015

Film review: Accidental Tourist (1989) by Lawrence Kasdan, ****


Synopsys

William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Geena Davis. An author of travel books who is coping with his son's death and his wife's departure has his outlook on life brightened by an offbeat dog trainer. Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress from one of four total nominations. 1988/color/121 min/PG.


Review

This movie is not really about traveling and when I was done watching it I did not plan to review it for this blog. But then I watched it again and I thought it is ALSO about traveling, and not just because the protagonist is a travel guide writer. In fact, that has nothing to do with it. It is a movie about traveling because there are so  many of us who are accidental tourists, though many of us do not even recognize we are.

How many times we go places not because we want to but because we have to? Or for no reason at all? And yet it is part of the innate curiosity of a real traveler to explore new destinations for no reason other than the fact that they exist and we came to know that they are there.

Not only Macon did not want to be a travel writer, but he hates traveling. He's got a job to do however, so he goes places.  He writes guide books for people who, like him, would rather never leave home. And his books are popular precisely because that's the way his readers feel as well. "While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put." Macon is a traveling armchair, really, and yet a trip to Paris (a place he'd rather avoid and where he looks for American fast food, while others would kill to have a chance to visit) will define the rest of his life. Is it all by accident?



16 July 2015

Book Review: Geography of Attraction (2015), by Ali May *****



Review

This is, in its own peculiar way, a travel book, which is why this review has a place in this blog. When I asked the author what his new book was about, his answer was simple: fxxxing around the world. The reader is led from ultra-conservative Iran to super-emancipated Denmark, with stopovers in Italian islands and European capitals. Along the way, we are led through many a decadent tasting of delicacies from around the world and lots and lots of drinking, all of which leads like a funnel to the inevitability of physical attraction.

Whether the protagonist of each story is him, or someone he knows, he wouldn't say. Maybe that's the most intriguing feature of the book. It's part fiction, but not all of it. It could all be real. Some stories are clearly autobiographical. I hope, for the author's good sake, much of it is.

For the rest of us what is left is good reading entertainment and the ability to draw inspiration. My favorite is the one about new year's eve celebration, when at exactly midnight she sat ... oh well I'd better not spoil it here.

You can buy the kindle version here on Amazon.uk



In the US and internationally find it here



Or contact the author here to buy the hard copy.

10 December 2014

Film review: Mississippi Masala (1991) by Mira Nair, ****

Synopsis

The story of an Indian family who after always having lived in Uganda, Africa, are forced to leave under the orders of dictator Idi Amin when he declares that Africa belongs only to 'black' Africans. The lawyer, his wife and little girl Mina, move to Mississippi where again, years later, racism presents problems. This time between the Indian and American/African community, coming to a head when the now 24-year-old Mina falls in love with a black carpet cleaner. 'Masala' in the film means a 'mixture of hot spices' which is how Mina sees herself through having come from such a rich mixture of cultural backgrounds.


Review

This is a film about globalization that was shot before people started talking about the term. Indians from Africa move to America to meet descendants of slaves and contribute to the melting pot that makes America great. The plot may not be super original (boy loves girl, girl loves boy, girl's parents are not happy) but the context is. It made me feel of "Guess who is coming to dinner" and it could almost be considered a remake. of course, in a different context and twenty-five years later. But the romance drama intermixed with the racial friction makes it very current and as I watch it in 2014 it is ever so relevant!

See my other reviews of films about India in this blog.




23 November 2014

Film review/recensione: A Walk in the Clouds (1995), by Alfonso Arau, ****

Italian text below

Synopsis

After returning home from the war, Sutton (Keanu Reeves) accepts that his wife has no interest in him or his plans for the future, and sets out in search of a new life on his own. He soon meets up with a vineyard owner's daughter (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), but she finds out she is pregnant and fears for her life when it comes to telling her father. Sutton then agrees to help her by pretending to be her new husband, a decision which will change both of their lives forever.

Review

A film about love: love for a family, a woman (you can see more men loving women, in their own way, than the other way around in this film) but especially love for the land and its wine. Catch the moment, life will offer unexpected treasures if one has the mental predisposition to catch them on the fly! Be ready to change what you planned, don't wait until you must.









Sinossi

Tornato dalla guerra, Paul Sutton, dopo aver riabbracciato la moglie Betty, che per la verità non sembra aver trepidato per lui, visto che non ha letto una sola delle molte lettere inviatele, riprende l'attività di rappresentante di cioccolatini. Una serie di contrattempi fa sì che si ritrovi a "fare" da marito ad una giovane di origine messicana, Victoria Aragon, figlia di un ricco viticoltore delle valle di Napa, che possiede il vigneto modello "Le Nuvole". La giovane, che frequenta l'università in città, aspetta un figlio illegittimo dal suo professore e teme che il padre, Alberto, la uccida.

Accettato il ruolo solo per breve tempo essendo deciso il giorno dopo ad andarsene con una lettera d'addio, Paul incontra subito l'aperta ostilità di Alberto, geloso della figlia e irritato per non essere stato avvertito, ma la simpatia della madre Marie José e soprattutto del nonno, Don Pedro, ritardano la sua partenza. Il rito della vendernmia poi, con il clima bacchico e solare della pigiatura dell'uva, fa perdere quasi la testa a Paul, che decide di rispettare Victoria, pur essendone attratto e ricambiato. Orfano, Paul trova nella famiglia della giovane un rifugio dagli orrori della guerra che ancora lo traumatizzano. Il fatto che i due non dormano insieme insospettisce Alberto che, colpito dalle manifestazioni d'affetto del finto genero per la figlia, decide di farli sposare con rito religioso.

A questo punto Victoria è costretta a dire la verità al padre, mentre Paul a malincuore si allontana per tornare dalla moglie che però, nel frattempo, ha provveduto ad annullare il matrimonio. Libero, il giovane fa ritorno al vigneto, ma trova Alberto ubriaco che si scaglia contro di lui e roteando una lampada a petrolio per colpirlo la lancia nel vigneto, incendiandolo. Vani sono i tentativi per domare le fiamme, poi Paul estirpa la radice, che ha resistito al fuoco, della pianta madre del vigneto, che rivivrà. Alberto fa pace con la figlia e Paul può sposarla accettando di essere un buon padre per il nascituro.

Recensione

Un film sull'amore. Amore per propria famiglia, la propria donna ma soprattutto per la terra ed il vino. Carpe diem, la vita può offrire inaspettate opportunità a chi ha la disposizione mentale per cogliere l'attimo. Bisogna essere pronti a cambiare i programmi per i quali si è lavorato, anche per anni, quando cambiano le condizioni. Meglio non aspettare di essere obbligati a farlo!





15 November 2014

Film review: Fire (1996), by Deepa Mehta, *****

Synopsis

Ashok (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) runs a family business that sells takeout food and which also has a video rental store at the side. Ashok's extended family includes his wife Radha (Shabana Azmi), his brother Jatin (Javed Jaffrey), their ailing mother Biji (Kushal Rekhi) and their manservant Mundu (Ranjit Chowdhry), all living under the same roof.

Jatin, at the insistence of Ashok and their mother, Biji, agrees to marry the beautiful Sita (Nandita Das) in an arranged marriage, although he is actually in love with Julie (Alice Poon), a Chinese-Indian.

At first glance, you see a happy middle-class family going through the normal paces of everyday life. However, as the layers are slowly peeled back, we find a simmering cauldron of discontent within the family, with almost every family member living a lie. Both marriages in the family turn out to be emotionally empty, without love or passion. While Ashok is an ascetic who has taken a vow of celibacy, Jatin is a handsome ladies' man who is still openly seeing Julie even after his marriage to Sita. Ashok has pledged his total devotion to a religious holy man, a swami, in order to purge his life of worldly desires and temptations. Radha, bound by her sense of duty to her husband, agrees to go along with his wishes.

As you can imagine, with both husbands ignoring their spouses' emotional and sexual needs (albeit with reasons that are totally opposite from each other), it is only a matter of time before Radha and Sita look to one another for comfort and to satisfy their own passions. In this environment, it is only natural that Sita and Radha become fast friends, and, in time, much more than that. But their love is not without its share of painful obstacles.

Major controversy led this movie by Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta  to be widely attacked and banned in India. The film's unprecedented lesbian themes led to riots outside cinemas in India and necessitated police protection for the director for over a year.



Review

A daring movie for India. For any country really, but especially for a country like India where the issue of female homosexuality was a big taboo in the mid-1990s and it still is. We learn a lot about an India which travelers hardly ever read of hear about, let alone see with their own eyes. It is an optimistic movie, in the end the right of the women to pursue their own path to happiness wins the day.

The pace of the movie is deliberate, with no rush and no slack, it is just right. We are taken into the home of a traditional Indian family where the modern lifestyle of one young husband contrasts with the stale tradition of another husband of a generation earlier. Both neglect their women and this brings the two ladies together more than they would ever have planned. It is ultimately a movie about freedom and love, not necessarily a movie about male chauvinism in India.

It is also a movie about changing India: millenary traditions crumble under the impact of modernity, and the movie suggests that this is a necessary transformation for the country.

This movie is one of three sometimes referred to as the "Elements Trilogy" by Mehta, including "Water" and "Earth".


See other films about India I reviewed on this blog.





17 October 2014

Recensione film: Il Matrimonio di Tuya (2007) di Wang Quan'an, *****

Testo italiano di seguito

Synopsis

Tuya is a young woman in Inner Mongolia (part of China) who lives with her paralyzed husband Barter and their two children. They are semi-nomad shepards and live off their sheep. Tuya can't cope with the hardships of providing for her family alone and is persuaded to divorce Barter and re-marry, but on the condition that the new husband will have to care for barter as well.

Review


Tuya is a strong woman, realistically attached to her land and her family, and especially her husband. She works hard to feed them all. But she is also an idealist, because she thinks she can bypass love by marrying another man who could then provide for all of them barter included. She tries with two suitors, but it is clear that Barter can't accept being sidelined while his beloved Tuya belongs to another man.

It is a film on the absolute value of love, which can lead to self-denial and masochism, even suicide, but can't accept compromises.

An intersting film on life in Inner Mongolia, now part of the People's Republic of China, where pastoral traditions mix with the modernity that comes with integration into China. The movie is a Chinese production and the characters speak Chinese, not Mongol.

Testo italiano

Sinossi

Tuya è una giovane donna della Mongolia interna (parte della Cina) che vive con Barter (il marito paralizzato) e i due figli in una zona semidesertica. La loro fonte di sostentamento è la pastorizia. Tuya però non riesce più a reggere la fatica e le responsabilità. Accetta quindi di divorziare e risposarsi ma solo con un uomo che si prenda cura non solo dei suoi figli ma anche di Barter.

Recensione

Tuya è una donna forte, realisticamente attaccata alla sua terra e soprattutto alla sua famiglia, compreso il marito Bater, restato paralizzato in un incidente, ed i figli. Lavora sodo e porta da mangiare a casa per tutti.

Ma anche idealista, perché pensa di poter scavalcare l'amore per poter assicurare al marito semiparalizzato un futuro sposando un altro uomo che si prenda cura di loro. Ci provano in due pretendenti, ma per motivi diversi Bater non può accettare di stare dietro le quinte mentre la moglie crea una nuova famiglia con un altro uomo.

È un film sull'assolutezza dell'amore, che porta fino all'autolesionismo e persino al suicidio per non fare compromessi.

Anche un bel film sulla vita della Mongolia interiore, parte della Cina, dove la cultura pastorale tradizionale si mischia con la modernità portata dall'integrazione con la Repubblica Popolare Cinese. Persino la lingua mongola viene ormai parlata mischiata al cinese.


25 November 2013

Film review/recensione: The lover /L'amante (1992), by Jean-Jacques Annaud, *****

testo italiano di seguito

Synopsis

The Lover is director Jean-Jacques Annaud's adaptation of Marguerite Duras' minimalist 1984 novel. Set in French Indochina in 1929, the film explores the erotic charge of forbidden love. Jane March plays a French teenager sent to a Saigon boarding school, while Tony Leung is a 32-year Chinese aristocrat. They look at each and they both see a blinding white flash; it's kismet. He offers her a ride in his limousine and soon they meet in his "bachelor room" where they revel in a wide variety of creative sexual encounters. However, they both realize their love is doomed.

She comes from a troubled family that includes a mentally-disturbed mother (Frederique Meininger) and drug-addicted brother (Arnaud Giovaninetti). It also appears that her family would not approve of an interracial tryst. But then neither would his family, since in order to inherit his father's wealth, he must not break from a traditional Chinese arranged marriage.


Review

A high-quality erotic movie, of course, and a deeply romantic one. Deep passion intertwined with surrepetitiousness and sin. Very exciting.

But for me the main picture was that of colonian life in Vietnam in the French colonial time. Here we see as Asian man in control of a beautiful European lady. He is Chinese, not the colonized Vietnamese, but still an "Asian". Despite his wealth and sophistication he is still considered a second tier person by the white colonizers. But here he is in control. And she, too, frees herself from the constraint of her condition as a white lady at a boarding school, and takes her liberties with the man she loves. Or maybe does not love, but desires.

Duras said her book was partly autobiographical, which adds interest and lends credibility to the story.




Sinossi

Sul finire degli anni venti, in Indocina una ragazza di quindici anni, figlia di una donna povera, conosce l'uomo piu' ricco della regione. Fra i due nasce una grande passione, ma le rigide convenzioni sociali finiranno per prevalere sull'amore.

Recensione

L'Amante è un film di grande sensualità ed intensità emotiva. Passione e trasgressione si mischiano per creare una miscela esplosiva. Molto eccitante. Questo è il primo messaggio che recepiamo dal film.

Tuttavia per me il secondo, e forse più importante, messaggio è quello di farci vedere la vita nell'Indocina colonizzata dai francesi negli anni venti del XX secolo. Vediamo un uomo asiatico (un cinese, non un vietnamita colonizzato) che controlla una bella donna bianca del paese colonizzatore. Nonostante la sua ricchezza e la sua sofisticata classe, egli è pur sempre un asiatico e come tale considerato una persona di seconda categoria. Ma qui è lui che domina la situazione. Ma anche la ragazza si libera delle costrizioni imposte dalla sua condizione di bianca e si prende le sue libertà con l'uomo che ama. O forse che non ama, ma che vuole.

Duras ha scritto che il suo libro è in parte autobiografico, il che accresce la credibilità e l'interesse per la storia qui esposta.

Versione italiana del DVD




18 July 2013

Film review/recensione: The Road Home (1999), by Zhang Yimou, *****

testo italiano di seguito

Synopsis

Businessman Luo Yesheng (Sun Honglei) returns home to the village of Sanhetun following the sudden death of his schoolteacher father. He finds his mother insistent that the funeral be a traditional one, with the coffin carried many miles in procession, so that the deceased will not forget his way home, hence the movie's title. But the village mayor is concerned about the expense such a send-off will incur. As he observes his mother weaving the funeral cloth, Yusheng thinks back to the early days of his parents' passionate courtship, when the 18-year-old Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi) was swept off her feet by the newly arrived Luo Changyu (Zheng Hao).


Review

This is a film about never giving up and reconstructing lost hope in the face of seemingly impossible odds. A primary role is played by Li Bin, Di's old and blind "grandmother". She tried to dissuade Di from pursuing the teacher, considered to be too elevated in society for a simple family like hers, but gave her wholehearted support when she fell in love. When Di broke a bowl of dumplings she was taking to her loved one, grandmother had it fixed at great expense, even though it would have been cheaper to buy a new one, because THAT bowl was important to Di.

Di learned from her grandma. When a funeral cloth had to be woven for her husband's procession, it was by now old Di who insisted that the only traditional loom in the village be fixed for the purpose.

It is also an interesting film to understand the changes of China from the time of Maoist extremisms  and poverty in the 1950s to the relative freedom and much greater prosperity of the 1990s. In the film we see thinly veiled criticism of the political climate during the "anti-rightist campaign" that takes the teacher away from his school and also symbols of the new China like private cars, a poster of the film "Titanic", the importance of money. (Fundraising for the school took the old Luo out in the cold and caused his death. In previous times it would have been the government's task to find the money.)

See my selection of movies about China here on this blog.








Sinossi

Luo Yusheng, uomo d'affari che lavora in città da molti anni, torna nel luogo natale nella Cina del nord per il funerale del padre, già maestro del villaggio. L'anziana madre vuole che le antiche tradizioni per la cerimonia funebre siano mantenute e così Luo, mentre si impegna per rispettare quel desiderio, ripensa ai racconti sentiti da ragazzo sul fidanzamento dei genitori. Suo padre, Luo Changyu, arrivò nel villaggio come nuovo maestro e ben presto si innamorò di Zhao Di, che viveva con la madre cieca. La ragazza lo ricambiava e, quando tra i due sembrava avviarsi una relazione, Changyu fu richiamato in città per non meglio precisati problemi politici e i due rimasero lontani per oltre due anni. Avuto il permesso di riprendere a fare il maestro, Changyu era tornato in paese. Lui e Zhao Di, più che mai innamorati, si erano finalmente sposati e non si erano più lasciati. Ora il figlio Luo si offre di pagare le persone che, secondo la tradizione, dovranno portare a piedi la bara del padre per molte miglia, dall'ospedale al luogo del villaggio in cui sarà sepolto. Il giorno del funerale tantissimi ex alunni dell'uomo si presentano e spontaneamente si ofrono di portare la bara senza alcun compenso. Prima di tornare in città, Luo dapprima propone alla madre di andare con lui, ma lei rifiuta. Poi onora anche l'ultimo desiderio del padre e per un giorno insegna simbolicamente nella scuola del villaggio.


Recensione

Questo è un film sulla perseveranza. Un ruolo fondamentale lo svolge la "nonna": dapprima cerca di dissuadere la nipotina dal perseguire il sogno d'amore con il maestro, giudicato troppo elevato per la loro umile condizione sociale. Ma quando la giovane insiste la nonna fa di tutto per aiutarla: Di rompe una ciotola che aveva usato per portare piatti prelibati al suo amato e la nonna la fa riparare segretamente, anche se sarebbe stato più economico comprarne una nuova.

Di impara dalla nonna. Flash foward: quando serve un panno funebre per il funerale del marito, l'ormai anziana Di insiste a far riparare l'unico telaio tradizionale del villaggio per farlo a mano, anche se sarebbe stato più facile ed economico comprarne uno al negozio.

Questo è anche un film interessante per capire come è cambiata la Cina dal tempo della povertà e del maoismo estremo degli anni cinquanta fino al periodo di relativamente maggiore libertà e considerevole prosperità degli anni novanta. La critica del maoismo appare anche nell'episodio che vede il maestro portato via dal villaggio per non meglio precisati motivi politici (siamo nel periodo della repressione "anti destra" seguito alla "campagna dei cento fiori").  Si vede anche come negli anni novanta spetti all'iniziativa personale del maestro trovare i fondi (privati) per ricostruire la scuola, mentre in periodi ideologicamente più ortodossi questa sarebbe stata responsabilità della pubblica amministrazione.

Nella versione italiana, ma per qualche ragione non in quella originale sottotitolata in inglese, sono riportate alcuni frasi molto istruttive che il maestro fa imparare ai propri alunni.

Lezione 1: imparare a leggere. Lezione 2: imparare a scrivere. Lezione 3: Imparare a contare. Lezione 4: Tenere un diario (be' questo almeno lo sto facendo). Lezione 5: Imparare a conoscere il presente. Lezione 6: Imparare a conoscere il passato, perché solo così si può costruire il futuro. Lezione7: Avere rispetto per se stessi, perché solo così si può avere rispetto per gli altri.




16 June 2013

Film review/recensione: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), by Woody Allen, *****

testo italiano di seguito

Synopsis

Woody Allen writes and directs this romantic comedy drama, his fourth consecutive film to be shot outside the United States. When two young American friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), spend a summer in Barcelona, they both become infatuated with flamboyant artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Things are further complicated when Juan's emotionally unstable ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz, in an Oscar-winning performance) reappears on the scene, and chaos soon reigns as the characters become amorously entangled to varying degrees.


Review

This is a great movie in the long string of Allen productions on the meaning of life (or lack thereof) and soul searching. In my view the main point can be summarized as follows: can only unfulfilled love be romantic? Is complete, fulfilling love destined to inevitable demise? Intriguing if somewhat disconcerting. We all look for love, and there is inescapable tension in the process. That is what produces romance. Once we get there, things start to turn routine, normal, and the spark is killed. That was not the plan of course, but what was the plan? What is is that we want from life? Do we need to know? Does it matter? Not really, Allen seems to suggest. "Whatever works", the title of a previous great movie, is good for us. Better to take advantage of what life has to offer and go for it. Avoid falling into easy comfortable traps, like money and an established, conformist lifestyle, because that makes for a boring life.

In the UK buy it here


In the US and worldwide




recensione italiana

Sinossi

Vicky e Cristina sono buone amiche anche se hanno visioni completamente differenti dell'amore. Vicky è fedele all'uomo che sta per sposare e ancorata ai propri principi. Cristina invece è disinibita e continuamente alla ricerca di una passione amorosa che la sconvolga. Vicky riceve da due amici di famiglia l'offerta di trascorrere una vacanza in casa loro a Barcellona durante l'estate e propone a Cristina di accompagnarla...Ma un uomo interviene ed interferisce con i loro piani.


Recensione

Gran bel film nella lunga serie di lavori di Allen sul significato della vita (o sulla mancanza dello stesso) and sulla ricerca interiore. Per me il punto centrale del film può essere sintetizzato come segue: possibile che solo l'amore non completamente appagato possa essere romantico? L'amore pieno è destinato inevitabilmente alla decadenza? Interssante anche se decisamente sconcertante.

Tutti cerchiamo l'amore, e c'è una tensione inevitabile nel processo. Questo è ciò che produce il romanticismo. Appena otteniamo quello che cerchiamo però, le cose cominciano a cambiare, a diventare normali, routinarie, e la scintilla iniziale muore. Non è quello che ci aspettiamo naturalmente, ma ci possiamo fare qualcosa? Cosa vogliamo allora dalla vita? Che importanza ha volere qualcosa di chiaro e definito, sapere che obiettivi porsi nelle relazioni con le persone care? Allen sembra suggerire che non ha molta importanza. "Basta che funzioni", come dal titolo di un altro gran bel film del regista. Meglio approfittare di quello che la vita offre ed evitare di cadere nella trappola del perbenismo, degli standard prefabbricati, e seguire il nostro istinto. Questo è l'unico modo di rimanere vivi ed evitare la noia.


04 June 2013

Recensione film: J'ai oublié de te dire... (2008), di Laurent Vinas-Raymond, ****

Synopsis

Lorsque Marie, jeune fille de 25 ans sans passé ni avenir, rencontre Jaume, un vieux monsieur, ancien champion cycliste devenu artiste peintre, c'est une grande amitié qui se lie. Grâce à lui, Marie va se découvrir une identité, qu'il est lui-même en train de perdre.


Recensione

Un film ambientato in Francia che rivela molto della natura più intima della Francia, o almeno di quello che la Francia vuol far credere di essere: romantica, attaccata alle tradizioni ed impervia alla modernizzazione ed alla commercializzazione. Nel bene e nel male. Una Francia sensibile alla campagna ed al buon vino.

Ma anche un film su come la natura umana può svilupparsi sulla base di un incontro casuale e come una persona può scoprire il meglio di se stessa tramite l'altro. Un altro che si può amare anche se non esiste neanche lontanamente la possibilità di una relazione di coppia.

Un ottimo Omar Sharif ma anche una bravissima Emilie Dequenne.


24 March 2013

Film review: Namesake (2006), by Mira Nair, ****

Synopsis

Namesake is a Bollywood drama by Mira Nair, based on the best-selling novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. Ashoke (Irfan Khan) and Ashima (Tabu) are a young couple who are brought together in an arranged marriage and soon leave Calcutta to seek their fortune in America. Before long, Ashima gives birth to a baby boy, and pressed to choose a name, they dub the infant Nikhil (Kal Penn), though he soon picks up the nickname Gogol, after Ashoke's favourite author. By the time the child is old enough to attend school, he insists upon being called Gogol at all times, and he displays little interest in his Indian heritage.

Several years on, Gogol has decided he wants to be called Nick (and is now played by Kal Penn) and has become a thoroughly Americanised teenager, openly rebelling against his parents, smoking marijuana in his room, and dating Maxine (Jacinda Barrett), a preppy blonde from a wealthy family. Ashoke and Ashima are uncertain about how to deal with their son's attempts to cut himself off from their culture, but Nick begins expressing some uncertainty himself when he meets Moushumi (Zuleikha Robinson), a beautiful girl who also comes from a family of Indian expatriates.


Review

Multiple stories in this film. Indian immigration in the 1970s, with a bright young engineering student who finds opportunities at M.I.T., the dream university for many scientists around the world. What a coincidence, I went to M.I.T. in the seventies, same university and same decade! Some of my classmates and best friends were just like Ashoke!

Also a touching family love story, with the problems faced by parents of adolescent kids in every country.

The strong role of the family bonds in Indian culture is a message not to be missed, and from which we in the West have much to learn.

I found the puzzlement of the American born kids when they go back to visit India the most entertaining and amusing part of the film.

Everything rotates around the quirky name that Ashoke has chosen for his son, and the meaning of this name which only becomes clear to the son after his father's death.

See more of my reviews of films about India in this blog.

Buy your European Region 2 DVD here



For the US buy or download here




Buy the book here




21 March 2013

Film review: The Proposal (2009), by Anne Fletcher, *****

Synopsis

When high-powered book editor Margaret faces deportation to her native Canada, the quick-thinking exec declares that she's actually engaged to her unsuspecting put-upon assistant Andrew, who she's tormented for years. He agrees to participate in the charade, but with a few conditions of his own. The unlikely couple heads to Alaska to meet his quirky family and the always-in-control city girl finds herself in one comedic fish-out-of-water situation after another. Stars Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Betty White, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen et al.


Review

This is funny, fast, even moving. While the ending is predictable (what else could it be after all?) the way it's worked up is not. A feel good movie for sure, but there is also a moral of the story. I don't know if the author of the director Anne Fletcher of The Proposal meant it, but for me it is: always keep an open mind on what life might bring to you from the most unexpected corners, and be ready to catch it on the fly.


European version DVD



US version