Monday, July 30, 2012

I Saw Jesus Die (1975)

I Saw Jesus Die (1975)
Director:Ib Fyrsting & Carl Nielsen
Country: Denmark
Runtime: 88 min

How do you create a movie based on the Christian bible in the second half of the 20th century without staging a kitschy spectacle? How do you avoid the usual parade of dead symbols and void gestures that do no longer cause the viewer to reflect upon anything else than which artistic effects are used to show the symbols and gestures? And how do you cram the Christian bible into a 1h 30min movie without resorting to filming hand-picked episodes that fit your own petty human(ist) ideas about an ideal Jesus?
I Saw Jesus Die' tries to overcome the above-mentioned obstacles by blemishing the biblical narrative. 'I Saw Jesus Die' deliberately toys with our expectation of what a biblical story should be. For example, seemingly unimportant stories are included in the movie while the single-most important part of the bible, the Resurrection of Jesus, is left out. Other biblical stories are deformed and turned into biblical non-stories. Monstrous stories, that have nothing to do with Christian tradition, have also been inserted into the movie. The movie does therefore not try to enlarge our understanding of Christianity by simply presenting masquerades of well-known stories. No, in order to watch this movie we have to reject pretty much all prior knowledge of Christianity. Thus the movie helps us negate all prior knowledge such that we can transcend the knowledge of the mind by not knowing anything.
At times parts of biblical verses are left out by the voice recounting the travails of Jesus. This totally destroys whatever sort of discursive meaning that were part of the original bible verse. By deforming biblical language itself and rendering it discursively meaningless the movie obviously tries to make the viewer transcend the limitations of purely cataphatic readings of the Bible and help the viewer reach a higher inexpressible understanding of what is beyond all knowledge and being. That is, the movie makes us realise that all our language (even the bible) is confined to the ideas we are capable of forming.
The movie transcends the usual gospel accounts of how Jesus gathered the apostles in a brilliant way. The divine monad starts out by converting two fishermen (presumably Simon and Andrew, if we "think" the movie follows an account from the bible). The divine monad and the imperfect dyad (who will later go on to found the eastern and western church) then double their numbers by converting a triad of bystanders. Since three is the first real number it is clear that the divine one has now truly attained a human nature by becoming part of the real. The divine one thus doubles twice, first in order to first create the church, and then secondly to move the church into the real world. This move into the real is underlined by a miracle. Jesus is able to speak and convert the triad of bystanders without the use of words. Jesus simply opens his mouth and looks like he is talking without ever uttering a single sound. This monstrous act clearly shows us the workings of the holy spirit working through the Christian churches. What at first glance seems to be a scene of how Jesus gathers his disciples is cleverly turned into an illustration of the Holy Trinity. Thus the movie presents us with a meaningful un-biblical story instead the biblical story we were expecting. This makes us realise that both stories are actually man-made and told by man, and that we can never truly understand God.
n 'I Saw Jesus Die' Jesus is not depicted in the streamlined and standardised way which characterises most contemporary illustrations of the life of Jesus - that is, Jesus modelled as some sort of late 20th century western academic (egalitarian, non-judgemental, a humanist, etc). Instead Jesus is depicted much more as he comes across in Christian scripture. He is very Jewish, incoherent, misogynistic, he teaches using bizarre parables, he runs a dubious healing business, he interprets the Torah and insists on imposing his Torah interpretations on other people, and he gathers a following of low-lives and other outcasts of questionable loyalty.
The Passion of Christ episode have been created with truly wonderful ingenuity. When Jesus is hanging on the cross he only blames an unidentified group ("they") for his crucifixion as he cries out in agony. The movie thus cleverly avoids the political 'who killed Jesus'-powder-keg and thus depoliticises the episode. An episode in the life of Jesus which very few other people have been able to present in a spiritually meaningful way in the 20th century. In totally depoliticising the Passion of Christ, 'I Saw Jesus Die' makes a radical break with the by now long-standing tradition of solely seeing Christianity as a pretext to discuss various current political polemics. By refusing to blame the Jews, Romans, humanity,... for the death of Jesus 'I Saw Jesus Die' demands the viewer to forget such political squabble and instead immense himself/herself into to the purely spiritual dimension of the episode. A masterstroke of ingenuity which makes 'I Saw Jesus Die' stand apart from most other adaptations of biblical stories.
One of the most striking ways 'I Saw Jesus Die' breaks with the tradition of Jesus-films is in its use of sound. 'I Saw Jesus Die' totally rejects the use of "natural" sound. In 'I Saw Jesus Die' speech is not automatically connected to the act of talking. Plenty of characters talk without making a sound. This obviously leads us to think, that whenever we actually hear something being said, what we hear is not the "natural" cause of the speech but rather the Cause of all speech. But at the same time this grotesque and divine speech only presents us with a bunch of old biblical quotes and various profane vulgarities in totally dead dictions. This contradiction between "divine" and the hackneyed speech accentuates a feeling that it is utterly useless to believe that one can express the divine using any sort of language. So 'I Saw Jesus Die' tells us not to contemplate what is ultimately unknowable, but rather how to reach it.
Not only does 'I Saw Jesus Die' mock the use of reason to understand God, the movie also mocks the use of pompous art as a means to reach God. Instead of using the soundtrack to emphasise the greatness of God as some sort of human world ruler, the movie cleverly toys with our expectations and present us with strange monophonic versions of some most well-known works of the titans of Western classical music (most prominently Mussorgsky). In a similar vein the movie has all characters describe their most pleasurable experiences as "skønt!" [wonderful!]. This constant use of "wonderful" does not lead us to believe, that the various experiences are really "wonderful" and things we should aspire to. Instead we are force-fed a long cascade of "wonderful" banalities ad nauseam.
In 'I Saw Jesus Die' Satan tempts Jesus with her cunt. Jesus rejects Satan's offer as we would expect and denies his sexuality. But during most of the rest of the movie Jesus seems to be obsessed with human sexuality. The wellspring of Jesus' human life was the cunt of Maria, so Jesus have obviously also had some contact with the human sex. This movie is thus not just a simple rejection of the material world in favour of a life devoted to the mind. Jesus is a sexual being and Jesus is not a sexual being. God is divine and God is not divine. God is the Truth and God is not the Truth.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Parada (2011)

Parada (2011)
Directed by: Srdjan Dragojevic
Country: Serbia
Runtime: 115 min

Turning transgression into a comedic principle, this turbulent farce that toys with clichés and stereotypes turned out to be an unexpected hit in Serbia and other ex-Yugoslavian countries. In PARADA a life-saving operation on a gangster’s pitbull terrier brings together two very different worlds: old school machismo meets gay obsession for interior design, homophobia meets overblown gender display as a number of former foes – Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, Kosovo-Albanians and Croatian war veterans – find themselves obliged to form a tenuous bond with a bunch of gay activists. This motley crew are sent on an impossible and probably suicidal mission to protect a fresh attempt to hold a Gay Pride parade from renewed and certain onslaught from nationalists and neo-Nazi organisations and make the event a success. Srdjan Dragojević’s film takes a look at survival strategies for gays in Serbia and at a society that even now, years after the Balkan war, is still fragmented and riven by two entrenched fronts. And, as one would expect from any comedy worthy of the name, no matter how tumultuous the plot, real-life tragedy is always hovering in the background, just a step away.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scheherazade Tell Me a Story (2009)

Scheherazade Tell Me a Story (2009)
Director:Yousry Nasrallah
Country: Egypt
Runtime:134 min

Karim and Hebba are a young married and loving couple. Both have great careers. Karim is just about to be appointed as editor-in-chief of the greatest governmental newspaper. Hebba is the hostess of much appreciated TV programs about female victims, e.g. daughters who are buried alive because of improper behaviour, people drowning when attempting illegal immigration to Europe. Karim is told that he will only be appointed if his wife avoids political topics. He does persuade her to make programs on ordinary people instead. But her "non-political" programs will become even more repugnant to the authorities. IMDb (Written by Max Scharnberg)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Riding a Stallion called Dream(2010)

Riding a Stallion called Dream(2010)
Director:Girish Kasaravalli

A masterpiece by director Girish Kasaravalli, who has given life to the story based on the work of writer Amaresh Nugadoni (`Savari') in his unique narration and presentation of script. One feature of the narration is the number of flashbacks told with different angles, and combining the future. Kasaravalli, with an excellent grip over the sequences, makes you part of the story from the beginning to end.
The story revolves around Irya (Biradar), the grave digger of the village, who has the ability to foresee events in his dreams. When he sees Siddha, his master and messenger of death, in his dream, he believes that the ailing septuagenarian Gowda of the village is dead and prepares a grave for him. But Mathadaiah ( Sadashiva Brahmavar), the caretaker of the house, denies any death as he has his own reasons to hide it. Irya is confused and cannot believe that his dream has gone wrong.

Rudri (Umashree), Irya's wife, in her dream sees Siddha visiting the village. The whole village is excited as he is believed to bring good luck. Even this dream fails to come true. Irya and his wife are devastated and wonder how, all of a sudden, their dreams have started failing. Without dreams, their life become even more unbearable. How does Irya survive without dreams?

Kumar Talkies (1999)

Kumar Talkies (1999)
Director: Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Country: India
Runtime:76 min

There is only one cinema in Kalpi, a small town in northern India. Not much more than a dilapidated shed in the poorest section of town, the theater, Kumar Talkies, doesn't have any hits or flops - supply and demand doesn't apply here. Every day a few people come to see the film, irrespective of what it is.

KUMAR TALKIES juxtaposes the reality of Kalpi, where poverty affects all facets of life, with the world of rebellion and romance on the silver screen. The imaginary images of the impossible being made possible have become part of the collective consciousness in Kalpi. Cinema has become a vehicle that simultaneously conveys the urban imagination to the townspeople, while existing as a medium in which people expect their personal, local experiences to be captured and displayed. Kalpi takes shape in interviews with the townspeople and footage of their interactions with the film crew. In cinema-verité the village comes to life: quarrels for the best seats, conversations after the film, political debates in the bazaar.

KUMAR TALKIES looks at how, even in Kalpi, emerging information technologies widen the horizon of knowledge, but in so doing undermine and replace existing modes, both traditional and modern. There is one satellite dish for the whole town. The operator must balance the tastes of the townspeople, giving adequate airtime to each desired type of programming.

KUMAR TALKIES also explores not only the meaning of cinema and technology in Kalpi, but also the status of film in India, especially the relationship between Bollywood and its audience. It is also about the Kumar family's relationship with cinema. It was filmmaker Pankaj Rishi Kumar's father who thirty years ago renovated an old factory he had inherited, creating Kumar Talkies.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where Do We Go Now? (2011)

Where Do We Go Now? (2011)
Director: Nadine Labaki
Country:Lebanon | Egypt
Runtime: 110 min

On the edge of a rough road, a procession of women advancing in procession to the cemetery of the village. Takla, love them, Yvonne, and Afaf Saydeh stoically face the sweltering heat of midday, holding photographs of their loved men, lost in a futile war, long and far. Some of them wear a veil, others wear wooden crosses, but all are dressed in black, united by a shared suffering. Arrived at the gates of the cemetery, the procession is divided into two congregations: Christians and Muslims on one side the other. United by a common cause, the unthinkable friendship between these women exceeds, against all expectations, all points of religious conflict that create havoc in their society and, together, thanks to their extraordinary creativity, put in place plans hilarious trying to distract men of the village in order to defuse inter-religious tension.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bye Bye Africa (1999)

Bye Bye Africa (1999)
Director: Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Runtime:86 min

In this reflexive docu-drama about the difficulties of making films in Africa, an exiled film director returns to Chad after the death of his mother. There he discovers, as a result of wars, that motion picture theaters have been abandoned in favor of makeshift video theaters often in private homes. Haroun visits a producer who suggests that he make a film using a video camera and concludes that the important thing is to continue to produce films no matter what the circumstances.

Microphone (2010)

Microphone (2010)
Director: Ahmad Abdalla
Country: Egypt
Runtime:120 min

Khaled returns from USA to his mother's funeral at his hometown: Alexandria, Egypt. He decides to make it a fresh new start even if it meant mending his first love story yet it proved a horrific failure. Khaled clashed big time with a changing more conservative Alexandria but He also stumbles upon fresh youth struggling for their under-ground music bands, art and ideas. in the middle of all the confusion, Will it ever all makes sense at the end? A question for the youth and the city to answer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bab el shams(2004)

Bab el shams(2004)
Director: Yousry Nasrallah
Country: France | Egypt
Runtime: 278min

Bab el Shams is considered in my opinion one of the greatest Arabic movies ever if not the best. The movie is about Israel's beginning and the struggle of the helpless Palestinians. The first half is technically marvelous, great scenes, wonderful picture and amazing acting for all the cast. It tells how it all began and how the Palestinians suffered and it shows how it was like before the war between the Arabs and the Zionists. It objectively shows how the Jews looked like when compared to the Arabs in 1948 They were educated, organized in their camps, overall more civilized than the Arabs (probably because they were immigrants from Europe and America). The movie is criticizing the Arabs more than attacking the Israelis The second half of the movie really challenges your mind and keeps you alert for every word is said has a meaning or two One of my favorite scenes was when um younis told her husband (the warrior) to listen to her for once in her life and see what she really needs; she told him that she and his kids are now working for the Israelis. It is a must see movie but please if you gonna see it, first don't watch it with preset ideas, second..do not compare it with Hollywood commercial movies

This a very beautiful and very personal account of a story of a nation. Nasrallah did a great job. The dialog, imagery, costumes, acting are superb, touching and very human. Filmography is very good, excellent director of photography.

This movie is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the Palestinians' displacement in the 1948 war and the history since then, and the second part dealing more specifically with the Lebanon war and the Palestinians' complicated situation there.

The first part is absolutely brilliant, a totally engaging epic told through the a comatose Palestinian militant. The second part has a lot more dialogue and gets a bit didactic in parts, where it seems like the characters are just explaining the politics of the Middle East for the benefit of the camera. Since the whole movie runs 4.5 hours, this half could probably have benefited from some cutting, but it's still hard to criticize the film as a whole.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mothers (2010)

Mothers (2010)
Director:Milcho Manchevski
Country: Republic of Macedonia

Two nine-year-old girls report a flasher to the police even though they never saw him. Three filmmakers meet the only residents of a deserted village - an elderly brother and sister who have not spoken to each other in 16 years. Retired cleaning women are found raped and strangled in a small town.

The fiction slowly turns into a documentary.

Marking the return of Milcho Manchevski, 'Mothers' portrays all types: dedicated, neglectful, loving, absent. Through these women, Manchevski renders the faces of human tragedy and joy.

Employing an innovative structure, the three stories in 'Mothers' highlight the delicate relationships of truth and fiction, of drama and documentary. What is the nature of truth?

Directed with a keen eye for contemporary Macedonia, the film eschews neat narrative devices and pushes the viewer to confront their own definitions of filmic reality.

In a traditional structuralist manner, the structure of the film itself (two parts fiction and one part documentary) becomes part of its message.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Restoration (2011)

Restoration (2011)
Director:Yossi Madmoni
Country: Israel 
Runtime: 84 min

After his longtime business partner dies, Yakov Fidelman discovers that his antique furniture-restoration shop is in grave financial difficulty. He’s forced to deal with his estranged son, Noah, a lawyer, who, seeing no hope for the failing store, proposes building apartments above it. One day Fidelman’s new apprentice, Anton, finds a neglected piano in the workshop: an 1882 Steinway that, given a new baseboard, would be worth enough to save the store.

The elegant story lines of Yossi Madmony’s first feature yield a complex set of frayed character relations for which restoration proves an apt metaphor. Refinishing the piano’s exterior would be worthless without replacing the cracked cast-iron board holding the string tension. Marked by restrained writing, which leaves significant details open to interpretation, Restoration depicts the rich texture of modern Israeli society. Anchored by Sasson Gabay’s mesmerizing performance, Fidelman is a stoic man who uses his shop to shut out the world, clinging to the illusion that he can maintain a vanishing way of life. –

Friday, July 20, 2012

Di buen día a papá (2005)

Di buen día a papá (2005)
Director: Fernando Vargas  
Country: Argentina | Bolivia | Cuba 
Runtime:107 min

 SAY GOOD DAY TO DAD is a story divided into four parts, where the lives of the characters intertwine to tell the story of Vallegrande, a small town for 30 years hid the remains of a saint who came from heaven.
Bones - 1997 tells the story of Welcome Cusitano, the young mayor of Vallegrande, which has a plan to remove the people from their poverty by promoting tourism Che Route. His plan is threatened by the arrival of a Government Commission with a clear instruction to find Che's remains to return to their families. While the excavation sites multiply and dozens of strangers say to the press to know where he is buried Che Welcome Charale his friend Ramon Escalante and his godmother Mamina prepare a strategy to prevent meet and carry the bones of the famous guerrilla.
Promises - 1987 tells the story of Welcome Cusitano and his girlfriend Angeles Escalante, two young vallegrandinos that during the visit of a young caravan commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Che's death, see their daily lives disrupted and their promises love destroyed by the lucrative but dangerous business of "selling Che."
Letters - 1977 tells the story of Mamina Escalante, her daughter and granddaughter Eva Angeles, who own and manage the accommodation Vallegrande The Seven Knights. The quiet life of these women is one day threatened by the arrival of an anonymous letter which enjoined to comply with a "Divine Mandate" if you want to save themselves from the "Curse of Che".
Hands - 1967 tells the story of Ramon Charale, a 9-year-old working as a servant in the accommodation Seven Knights of Vallegrande. In the context of the execution of Che Guevara and the display of his body to the press, Ramon is a friend and collaborator of Jean Moreau, a young European journalist Vallegrande search the news that changed his life. Both will live an adventure that will make the least in the only witness to the place where Che Guevara is buried.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Darling, I Am Going Out For Cigarettes and I Will Be Right Back(2011)

Darling, I Am Going Out For Cigarettes and I Will Be Right Back(2011)
Directors:Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat
Runtime:80 min

 A darkly comic gem of a thriller with genius performances by leads Emilio Disi and Eusebio Poncela.

This Argentinian gem of an indie thriller opens with a Spaniard (Eusebio Poncela) walking on the Moroccan desert with his camel. He does not have the sense to stay out of the thunderstorm and is hit by lightning. He is amazed to find himself still alive after the lightning strike and decides to continue. After all, there is no chance that lighting will strike in the same place twice.
Yet, he is struck again. Still undead, he awakes to find himself gifted with a strange power. He has the power to allow mortal humans to relive portions of their lives. They go out for cigarettes, relive a decade of their past and return from the store into the present time. No, this is not a science fiction film. It is a deeply probing study in the mortal and the immortal, and what happens when the two mix.
As the Spaniard realizes his foolishness and his Godliness at the same time, the tone is set for the remainder of his eternal existence. In addition, the tone is set for the 80 mesmerizing minutes of this film. The best-laid plans go awry.
The one-eyed man in the valley of the blind is not king. Be careful what you wish for. Moreover, do not be a fool if you can help it. When you find out that you cannot help but be a fool, make the best of it.
As it turns out, lead character Ernesto (Emilio Disi) is not so much an outright fool as he is a common man. He has no more, or less, foolishness than most. When he strikes his Faustian bargain with the Spaniard he has only the best of intentions.
The question is whether or not, as a mortal human being, he has the ability to use such an inhuman condition wisely. Veteran actor Emilio Disi brings a humble naiveté to the role of a man who seems to have been given a great gift; the gift to go back in time and live one’s life over. Older and wiser, he has the chance to correct past mistakes and to change his own misguided behavior.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” This breathes life into the possibilities of being able to plan better things for the life one has already lived. We all yearn for the chance to do some things over; to do them better the second time.
After all, it has to get better; it could not possibly get worse. Seizing his opportunities, talentless real estate agent Ernesto plagiarizes Lennon’s “Imagine” before the former Beatle has a chance to write it.
He notifies the US Embassy of the September 11 attacks before they happen. He says the heart-felt things on his mother’s deathbed that he was too proud and afraid to say at the time.
Nobel and ignoble intentions mix freely with Ernesto’s conversations with the gifted Spaniard. Myths handed down through time come and go. Ernesto is the sorcerer’s apprentice.
He is Mr. Peabody and Sherman from the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” using the Wayback Machine to travel back in time, usually with unintended results. At the end of the story he has returned from the store with much more than a pack of cigarettes.
This is a story of fate. It is a tale that advances the concept of manifest destiny with the scales slanted towards original sin. We are born; therefore we will manage to pull the worst outcomes of even the best of situations.
In the end, we have failed and we have learned at the same time. This is life. Perhaps not exactly what John Lennon said, but restated as “Life is the reality that happens while we are in a fantasy.
Shot and narrated in an understated tone that brings out the hilarity in the obvious, this film is a remarkably creative addition to the Lincoln Center Latin film festival.
In an environment where so many movies seem bent on taking northern hemisphere residents south, this flick takes us all into a new world where nothing is what we expected. Three cheers for Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Avé (2011)

Avé (2011)
 Director: Konstantin Bojanov
 Country: Bulgaria
 Runtime: 82

 Kamen (Ovanes Torosian) is hitchhiking by the side of the road when he meets Avé (Angela Nedialkova). Both are trying to get to Ruse on the north eastern Bulgarian border, so, despite Kamen's hesitation, it makes sense that they share rides. Once they are in a car together, Kamen is shocked when Avé begins to make up stories about him as if they have known each other all their lives. The further they travel together, the more extreme her lies become, yet although he makes clear his rising anger he can't seem to get rid of her.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Director : Shion Sono
Country: Japan
Runtime:  2 hour 10 min

 Sumida and his schoolmate Keiko are 14 year old school kids living a dystopian existence where each of their parents' hopes and encourages them to die. Set in tsunami-hit areas of Japan about May 2011, which is used as a backdrop, the story follows roughly that of the manga of the same name wherein Sumida fights frequently with his father, is abandoned by his mother and tends to reject friendly advances of others. Eventually, he kills his father and then, assuming his life is ruined, attempts to improve society by killing "bad" people. Although not immediately obvious, what instead happens is that he attacks psychotic and violent characters, while he instead learns from Keiko and the Yakuza and people who befriended him that he himself has become "sick", eventually breaking free of the cycle of violence, but without a complete resolution of the issues raised during the movie before its end. Written by Jeff K. 

Thursday, July 05, 2012

If The Seed Doesnt Die (2010)

If The Seed Doesnt Die (2010)
 Director: Sinisa Dragin
 Country: Serbia | Austria | Romania
 Runtime: 1 hour 53 minutes

 Two fathers, a Romanian searching for his daughter who was forced into prostitution in Kosovo, and a Serbian seeking the body of his son killed in a car accident in Romania, meet on the river Danube. A boatman recounts the 200 year-old legend of Romanian peasants struggling unsuccessfully to move an old wooden church up the hill to their village at a time when building Orthodox churches was prohibited.