selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
I am not a witch, directed by Rungano Nyoni, lik its director a Welsh-Zambian co-produced effort (with some German producing money added as well). This is a directing debut, half satire, half J'Accuse. Not without flaws, but it gets to you and makes you note the director's name down. Our heroine is a little girl later named "Shula" by one of the other characters (we never find out her original name) whom the village she's ended up in basically accuses of being a witch for silently standing and staring. Since there are actual "witch camps" in Zambia, it means she ends up in one, which is being exploited by the local venal and none too competent politician Mr. Banda. For verily, these witch camps are good business. Among other things, they're used as a dumping ground for unwanted elderlies (every woman other than Shula in the camp is at the very least middle aged, and most are old), they're used as state workers (on fields) and tourist attractions, and you soon want to slap every single tourist who shows up, thinks those white ribbons the women have attached to their backs (so the witches don't fly away) are oh so picturesque and wants their picture taken with little Shula. Margaret Mulubwa, who plays Shula, doesn't speak until at least half an hour into the film, which tries to keep a balance between biting, funny and truly emotional, which doesn't always work out, plus there are some odd directorial choices at the very end. But it's still a really captivating and at times disturbing movie.

The Constitution (Ustav Republike Hrvatske), directed by Rajko Grlic (a Croation-Czech-Slovenian production), was the last new film I watched on the Munich Film Festival, and it made for a rousing finale. A wonderful three characters piece which manages the balance between funny and sad perfectly (and will be released in English speaking countries). Location: current day Croatia. Vieko is a middle aged conservative grammar school teacher who also happens to be a drag queen. (I was wondering whether or not he counts as trans, but while Vieko has a female alter ego, Katarina, when he's in drag, he otherwise seems to define himself as a gay man and has no wish for an operation.) One day after he's been beaten up brutally (of which we see just enough to indicate the seriousness; the violence isn't revelled at), he ends up in the emergency room where his neigbour Maja works as a nurse. Maja and her husband Ante are only a bit younger than Vieko and because Ante is a a Serb, they're mostly shunned in the neighborhood; previously, Vieko, who's a fervent Croation Nationalist, has shunned their overtures. But after Maja helps him out repeatedly, especially with his very old father (who is one big reason why Vieko is a Serb-hating nationalist, the other one having been a child in a war camp) Vieko can't very well decline her plea to help her husband who needs to pass an exam on the constitution if he's to be promoted at all as a cop in Croatia. (In addition to being born a Serb, he also has got against him that he's got dsylexia, which makes learning the constitution by heart really difficult for him.)

All three characters are vividly drawn and three dimensional. Ante is a heavily built guy who adores being dominated by the equally built Maja, does have a zeal for justice and a childlike enthusiasm for many things, but he also, after Vieko has been awful to him, responds with some homophobic slurs. Vieko hides his own prejudices (not very well) behind a cultural veneer and doesn't see any contradiction between being part of a discriminated against minority (and an out part, he's not in the closet with anyone, including his father who makes Genghis Khan look like a leftist) and being a nationalist conservative. Maja is compassionate and funny, but also extremely pragmantic and strategically minded; it's not why she helps him at first, but it does occur to her after a while of learning more about Vieko that since his beloved partner is dead, he only has this very old parent and a very big flat which he might be inclined to share if she and Vieko manage to befriend him, whereas they live in a much smaller, cramped flat.

Despite showing everyone's flaws, the movie is, as far as its characters are concerned, optimistic about human nature, our ability to connect against the odds and learn from each other. This is true for the three lead characters, but also a supporting player like Vieko's stuident who early on started out as an obnoxious teen into name calling and late into the movie reveals he's also gay and desperately in need of advice of how to come out to parents. There is a lot of humor, some of it black (Ante: But why does he think that I am one of those Serbs who beat up Croats? Maja: Well, you do. Ante: ?!???? Maja: You're a cop who lives in Croatia. Of course you beat up Croats.) Sometimes the reaching out is also literal: Maja's matter of fact nursing skills start the contact with Vieko, and they say something about her the same way Vieko later helping her with her make up says something about him. Ante's unabashed love for his dog (a small fluffy number, not a big one) comes with constantly picking it and not living things up. And so forth.

re: violence, the early attack against Vieko, which as mentioned is only shown briefly and in parts to make it clear what happens. Sex: Maja and Ante enjoy sex as much as food; Vieko's long time partner has only been dead a year, and he's still mourning, though it's clear he doesn't want eternal celibacy from now on.

In conclusion: a great final note to leave this year's festival on. And now I'm thoroughly exhausted and my eyes are formed squarely.
selenak: (Bayeux)
Sense8 will get a two hour finale!

This was great news to start my day with. Meanwhile, have a fanfic rec:

Not a new story, but a new-to-me story from 2010's Yuletide, something for Norse mythology lovers (but also accessible if you have zilch knowledge about Norse mythology!), with a terrific take on the Odin and Loki relationship especially:

A Game of Shapes (6883 words) by Bagheera
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Norse Mythology
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Óðinn | Odin, Loki (Norse Mythology), Thor, Baldr | Baldur
Additional Tags: Genderbending, Shapeshifting, Magic, Death
Summary:

Someone has stolen little Baldr and replaced him with a changeling child. Thor and Loki go on a quest to rescue Baldr, but not before long, they're joined by a one-eyed giantess.

selenak: (Carl Denham by Grayrace)
Parting (Raftan), directed by Navid Mahmoudi, is an Afghan-Iranian drama about a young Afghan couple trying to make it to Europe via Iran. The director himself arrived in Iran as a child, the film is dedicated "To my immigrant parents", most of the cast consists of lay Afghan workers living in Iran - the leading lady was one of the few who had professional actor training, but the leading man in rl is an Afghan worker in Teheran -, and Mahmoudi, who was present for a Q & A after the movie, said he knew he wanted to make the film when he saw the news in 2015.

Our hero and heroine are Nabi and Fereshtre, who fell in love back in Afghanistan, but because her family was against it could not be together. Her father then moved the family to Teheran. The couple remained in contact and made plans which were accelarated when Nabi's brother killed someone, which started a blood feud, which meant Nabi had to get the hell out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later and thus is in Teheran sooner than expected. That's when the movie starts, with Nabi arriving in an overfilled vehicle in Teheran, where Fereshtre wants to join him. She hasn't told her family, but they are planning to go to Europe on the dangerous Turkey-Greece route. Nabi's sister knows, is horrified (news of drowned people being everywhere), and tries to reach them via phone at different points in the film, which takes place during a single day.

As with other Iranian movies I've seen (all at the Munich Film Festival, as it happens), this one sticks to certain censorship rules - no kisses, despite Nabi and Fereshtre being an established couple (he introduces her as his wife to the various people they encounter, but technically she isn't, due to her father's objection), or other physical contact that could be deemed erotic, for example. But the movie doesn't need it, as the longing looks between them and gestures like Nabi covering Fereshtre with his jacket carry all the tender familiarity that is needed to indicate the state between them. That said, later during the Q & A you could see somewhat of a culture clash happening when a German viewer (male) said Fereshtre was such a passive character and didn't decide for herself, and an Afghan viewer (female) protested that Fereshtre by deciding to be with Nabi was already doing something very transgressive because leaving the family is such a strict no. The Afghans in the audience generally voiced much approval; one man said he'd taken the same route to Europe Nabi and Fereshtre want to take in the movie, and the behavior of the smugglers was very much as it had been for him.

This is very much an working immigrant movie - Fereshtre's family seems to be doing okay, but she's still working at a tailor's who doesn't pay his employees their promised salaries, very aware that most of them aren't there legally; Nabi's one friend who is already in Teheran as well as some other contacts work in construction, and are considerably poorer. And most of them either arrived as refugees themselves or have family who is trying to make it further, to Europe. At one point, one of them finds out his brother was on the latest ship that went down and whose passengers drowned, and despite the audience not having spent much time with this character, it's heartrendering. Of Teheran, we see only what the characters see - mostly construction sites, or fragments of a city through the air holes in car boots. The colour palate of the movie is thus mostly brown and sandlike yellow, with the occasional red via the women's headscarves, and some blue and grey inside half finished buildings where there are improvised meals and hot tea sharing. Spoilery observation for the ending. )

Gook, directed by Justin Chon, who also wrote the script and stars as one of the main three characters. The title, as Chon informed his German audience which didn't know that in a short speech before the movie started, is an US-Englsh racial slur against East Asians, while the same word in Korean simply means "country". This movie takes place during the Rodney King riots twenty five years ago, and Chon in the same brief introduction speech mentioned his family's store was looted on that occasion as well, when he'd been 11, so he does have personal memories, but that wasn't the sole reason for making the movie - as important was that their store getting looted was pretty much typical because Korean immigrant shops were a primary target during the riots. Chon first wrote the script and imagined someone else would direct it, but the people in question all wanted at least one white character in the story to give a famous actor the chance of an audience-drawing cameo, preferablyly someone who says "you gotta go, there are looters coming". Whereas, quoth Cho, the cops had left to their fates d during the riots, and besides, another reason why he wanted to make the movie was because Asian Americans stiill don't get many roles in the US media, "and if they show up, they're usually good at match and all go to Harvard, and well - not true for anyone I grew up with!"

The result is a movie featuring solely Korean-American and African-American characters, mainly from two families - the brothers Eli (played by Chon himself) and Daniel (David So), who sell shoes in South Central Los Angeles, eleven-years-old Kamilla (Simone Baker, who is amazing in the part) who loves to hang out there, and, in minor but important supporting roles, her older brother Keith and older sister Regina. Also important: the cranky old Korean shop owner on the other side of the road who exists in a state of mutual loathing re: Eli and Kamilla.

(Kamilla, btw, started out as a boy named Kamal when Justin Chon wrote the first draft, but then, he said in the Q & A after the movie, he realised that black girls were as underrepresented as Asian males, and changed the kid's gender.)

Daniel and Eli have inherited the shoe store from their father (there's a backstory there which is only revealed in the last third of the movie, but it's just one factor in a complex pattern) and are just barely getting by, with some fraternal tension because Daniel would rather do something else; Kamilla and her older siblings are orphans (see also: slowly revealed backstory) and she's not really supposed to be at the store, but has made the brothers into her other family. All of which is put to the test when after the judgment in the Rodney King trial Los Angeles explodes.

Chon spreads the trial news through the early part of the movie, keeps it in the background, and mostly lets the fragments speak for themselves except for one heavy irony scene when one of Keith's pals says that now there are cameras everywhere, cops won't get away with beatiing up people anymore; but when the judgment itself is announced, we see all of the movie's characters react, and it's the big turning point from which the pace accelerates as the situation becomes more and more dangerous. Even before that, though, the racial tensions are ever present, both in blunt form ("Gook" getting sprayed on Eli's car) and more subtly (Kamilla, who helps out Eli and Daniel at the store, makes a joke about being held against her will, and all at once the three (black, female) customers who a moment ago had been chatting with the guys fall silent and narrow their eyes in suspicion, until it becomes clear Kamilla was kidding.

Kamillla is a great character, endearing without being saintly, and sometimes in the wrong (she steals from the cranky Korean shop owner across the street), fierce and joyful, with a temper of her own. Asked how he cast the young actress, Chon said at first he looked at young professoinal Disney actors, but they were already too polished and he wanted someone more raw, and then he found Simone at a community art center. I hope she'll keep acting; she does some amazing stuff in this movie, and is really the heart of it. The film is an ode to friendship across those invisible dividing lines, but be warned: your heart will also be broken.

The movie is shot in black and white, both, as Chon frankly confessed, for budget reasons and to make any anachronisms about South Central Los Angeles that's supposed to look like 25 years ago less obvious. At first it feels a bit odd, especially since I remember Los Angeles at that time, but now I can't imagine the movie in colour. Not least because the black and white really allows for a stark picture of just how poor the neighborhood is. Music wise, it uses both original music and one or two hits of the day. It makes for an intense, captivating whole.
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
This week, Potterdom had its twentieth anniversary. I always felt somewhat on the periphery of the fandom - I enjoyed the books and read some of the fanfic, I did have some opinions and theories while the books were published, but I never felt compelled to write fanfic myself, I didn't ship anyone with anyone else, and I don't think I had a Harry-Potter-related argument with anyone. Oh, wait, I think I did argue, but only in one post, about how whoever sorted the Beatles into HP houses and put John in Slytherin and Paul in Gryffindor was completely wrong, and then I wrote some silly meta fic to prove it. But other than that.

Anyway: I'm still fond of the books and some of the fanfic, and so I was delighted to see [profile] fernwithy celebrated the anniversary by writing a story about Harry shortly after Voldemort's death, trying to figure out where to go from there, and, not so coincidentally, what to do with Grimmauld Place 12, which as you'll recall Sirius left him, co-starring Kreacher and Andromeda Tonks, with cameos for Dudley and Petunia Dursley,

Broken

It captures grief, survivor's guilt, empathy, hope so very, very well.


Meanwhile, I just found there's this lovely bit from the last convention which both Stephen Furst and Peter Jurasik attended:



Boo on the cheapness of Warner Brothers, but aww on these two.
selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended
selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
And my show love is back! Woo hoo! That was a fantastic episode.

Read more... )
selenak: (Breaking Bad by Wicked Signs)
Aka what consumes my days these days, as every year around this time. Of course, every year doesn't have Bryan Cranston as one of the guests of honor, so there was this additional perk.:) (Here's an article about the award ceremony he was there for.)


 photo 2017_0623Filmfest0003_zpsgy9vaotd.jpg

(Question: is the young man in one of the photos a fan is holding out to be signed truly Cranston some decades ago? Yikes, I wouldn't have recognized him.)


The director of Wakefield, one of his movies which are shown this year in honor of him (and yes, of course several Breaking Bad episodes are s hown as well), Robin Swicord, joked that both she and Cranston have German grandparents, and: "I don't know why they left, but you know, I think the fun is over. Might be a good idea to come back now, and I think you all know why. So thank you for welcoming political refugees." Former opera director Sir Peter Jonas outed himself as a Breaking Bad fan, complete with Heisenberg t-shirt, and held a speech praising the glories of narrative arc driven television. My only irritation with that one wasn't the series he singled out (other than BB) for being exceptionally good at this - The Sopranos, Oz, The West Wing and The Good Wife - , but the one he didn't mention. Babylon 5 still doesn't get as much credit in breaking ground with its narrative arc tellng format as it deserves.

Anyway, Bryan Cranston's own speech was lovely, mostly about the way being a storyteller is the best vocation (I agree), with both wry humor and sincerity. After the ceremony, Wakefield was shown, but due to an unshakeable real life obligation, I could only watch the first hour. Mind you, I had mixed feelings anyway. Because I could see why Cranston was cast (excelling as he does in playing dislikeable characters whose pettiness isn't air brushed away who are still interesting to watch) , and I enjoyed seeing Jennifer Garner again (playing his wife), and found the concept something of a suburban Hitchcock satire without crime (Howard Wakefield, lawyer, due some circumstances ends up disappearing into his own attic, watching his wife and family carry on without him with the bickering zest of a true voyeur while literally reduced to eating garbage) in a clever way, it still made my skin crawl. Because in the hour I watched, most of Howard Wakefield's voyeurism and assholery was directed against his wife, and while I knew the narrative was absolutely on the same page with me here, it still felt very disturbing to watch, and so it didn't exactly break my heart that I had to leave early. (Otoh I missed the Q & A with Cranston afterwards that way, alas.)

On to movies I could watch completely:

La Familia, a movie from Venezuela, directed by Gustavo Rondón Cordóva, currently stuck in Caracas and thus unable to make it to the festival, though he might make it to the Latin American directors general Q & A on Monday. This was a taut, intense story starting in the poorest quarters of Caracas. Our two main characters are Pedro, a twelve years old boy, and his father Andres, who works several jobs at once to make ends meet and thus hardly sees him. The introduction sequence has Pedro (Reggie Reyes) playing with some other children, and the playing has that edge of violence, those moments when shoving at each other suddenly threatens to become more, which has you sit up already. And sure enough, various scenes later, which establish Pedro's day with best friend Jonny and minus his father (who sleeps like a stone on those rare occasions when he's home), violence does explode, as a child threatens Pedro and Jonny with a gun and Pedro ends up seriously hurting the other child. His father Andres understands the implication at once because the child in question has revenge hungry people, and goes on a run with his estranged son, which is the plot line for the rest of the movie. "Going on a run", however, doesn't mean what it might were this a US film, because Andres still needs that money for Pedro and himself to survive, so he takes Pedro with him to his various jobs on the other ends of the city - they just don't go back to their own quarter, though Pedro urgently wants to because he's worried for Jonny, which makes for a big confllct with his father.

This is a movie which trusts its actors (Giovanni García plays Andres), because the dialogue is terse and rare, and you experience the shifting father and son relationship mostly through physical interaction, looks, gestures. Andres doesn' have a "killing is bad" conversation with his son, or a "how do you feel about what happened?" conversation - that's just not how they interact. And yet you can watch them becoming closer throughout the film, and at the end they truly understand each other, and even in their desperate situation have some hope for the future.


Clair Obscur, a Turkish-German-French-Polish coproduction (yes, these do exist) directed by Yesim Ustaouglu. With a female Turkish director and two female main characters, this movie explores, among other things, various ways of what it means to be a woman in Turkey. Our two heroines live completely different existences - Shendaz is a psychiatrist with a seemingly good relationship with her boyfriend, living in very well off circumstances at the Meditterranean coast, while Elmas is still a teenager imprisoned in a marriage to a much older man who revolts her, serving him and his mother in their small flat in a skyscraper. The two storylines eventually connect when due to various spoilery circumstances Shendaz becomes Elmas' therapist; by that time, the cracks in Shenaz' own life have been revealed, but refreshingly for therapists who tend to be either demonic or incompetent when presented in a fictional story, she's still able to truly help Elmas (especially once she figures out how young Elmas really is), and eventually finds away to escape the mess in her own life as well.

The director and several of the actors were there, though not the two leads. The actress who plays Elmas' mother-in-law said whhen she read the script, she thought that this was the best discussion of female sexuality in a Turkish movie. The sex scenes aren't just surprisingly frank in the case of Shenaz (with Elmas, who does not want to have sex, the camera stays on her agonized face, and later goes with her to the restroom because the aftermath is also very painful to her), but always make a character point. In the Q & A the director was asked whether the movie could be shown like this in Turkey, and she answered she had to cut around two minutes for the general release version (though she was allowed to show the full length in Turkish festivals), which since she knew this would happen in advance she could do without taking away the meaning from the scenes in question. Mostly the general release cuts avoided the full nudity of the complete version. Since the only Muslim women showing up in Western media tend to wear headscarfs and/or hijabs, in short, live Elmas' life, I suspect the fact that Shenaz is sucessful in her profession, has unmarried sex and enjoys wine when dining with her boyfriend (who does the cooking) would be as startling as the sex and the nudity if this movie gets a release in the US or Europe. At the same time, there's the awareness that Erdogan's government and party is doing its best to make Elmas, not Shenaz' life more common again in Turkey, and that subtext is also there if you're sitting in the audience watching this film.

Shenaz is played by Funda Eryigit, Elmas by Ecem Uzm, and they're both delivering terrific performances. In the Q & A, Ms. Ustaoglu mentioned that the incredible scene in which Shenaz gets Elmas to roleplay a dream she has (which finally allows Elmas to vocalize the pain in her life) needed only two takes, one for Elmas, one for Shenaz, that the actresses were that good. And having seen this movie, I believe it.
selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
In which whoever did the trailer after the last episode should not do so again, since it already gave away the two key twists, but even so, this was a suspensful and good first part - may the second one live up to it.

Read more... )
selenak: (rootbeer)
Confessions of a Trekker: I really don't like ST VI - The Undiscovered Country. Which is, I've discovered, something of a minority opinion, for at least the vocal part of fandom holds this last cinematic outing of the TOS crew in a fond light. However, now and then the dissent becomes vocal, too, as in this rewatch post about the movie in question .


In more fun Trek news, check out this vid about everyone's favourite Cardassian tailor-plus-spy:

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

(Every now and then I wish the movies instead of going for the nth version of Wrath of Khan (with or without a villain called Khan) would tackle the Cardassians instead. And then I conclude the movies would probably mishandle the Cardassians as badly as they did the Romulans, and am glad the Cardassians so far have been reserved for tv.)

And lastly, a BSG fanfic rec:

Rippling Light: tender and heartbreaking take on the friendship of Felix Gaeta and Anastasia Dualla, two characters for whom the phrase "they deserved better" might have been invented.
selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
Getting this done before the Munich Film Festival starts tomorrow (guests of honor: Bryan Cranston and Sofia Coppola, who brings her parents along!).

Now that the season is over, I'm still not sure whether Fuller's decision to stretch the main plot out and pace it the way he does is justified. I mean, we STILL haven't reached the House on the Rock yet, and I assumed that would happen in the third episode, as it's this story's Council of Elrond scene, so to speak. Just think of a LotR tv adaption where they've barely made out of the Shire by the time the season finishes. Otoh, all that Fuller & Co. have added does enrich the story and I wouldn't have wanted to miss it, so.

And the moral of the story is... )
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
Still feeling listless (me, that is, not the series) and waiting for my enthusiasm for the show to come back.

Spoilery comments ensue. )
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
In which Saul takes a backseat to Jimmy again, and only some of my speculations turn out to be correct.

Read more... )
selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
In which who penned the very last Classic Who adventure broadcast on tv in the 80s makes a comeback, lets Bill geek out over Rosemary Sutcliffe, and quotes Tacitus on us.

Read more... )
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
Now, universe, this is just not fair. Stephen Furst has died, whoh played the wonderful Vir Cotto in my beloved Babylon 5.

If Londo's and G'Kars intertwining stories were for me the core of Babylon 5, Vir was its heart. He defied the cliché that a character who is good, sweet-natured and kind is per definition less interesting than the darker characters around him. Vir going from seeming comic relief to Londo's protesting conscience to the Centauri's best hope for a better future was moving, funny, dramatic - all of it. And Stephen Furst was up to whatever JMS wrote for him, with fantastic comic timing (the waving at Mr. Morden, for example) and heartrendering expressions (for example, the scene where he tries to apologize to G'Kar and G'Kar replies, well, here's the scene itself:



If you're in a scene with Andreas Katsulas and still hold your own, in a situation where you're a part of the people who occupied the other man's home planet (again) and you still make the audience feel for you as well as G'Kar, then you're an artist. Stephen Furst was.

I would have loved to include the scene between Vir and Londo after Cartagia's death as well, because for me that's not just one of Vir's best scenes but one of the show's most memorable, but alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube. Suffice to say: that scene says so much about who Vir is, about the Londo and Vir relationship, and also about B5 as a show, because most other shows would not have bothered with the aftermath of killing a villain so completely evil as Cartagia was.

Babylon 5 would not have been as good a show without Vir Cotto, and Vir Cotto might have been a very different character if he'd been played by anyone but Stephen Furst. I'm so grateful the two, Vir and Stephen Furst, found each other.
selenak: (Kate Hepburn by Misbegotten)
Having watched „American Crime: The People vs O.J. Simpson“ some months ago, I moved on to this year’s Ryan Murphy endeavour, „Feud: Bette and Joan”, several episodes of which were scripted by Tim Minear, aka he who was largely responsible for most of Darla’s episodes at Angel, for which I’ll eternally appreciate him. Now I had actually read the book this particular miniseries draws much of its material from, “Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud”, and among other things, it was interesting to see how Murphy and his team shaped the same raw material into a different type of story. The book is very gossipy, but in a way that doesn’t favour either woman about the other, and does point out when there are several conflicting accounts. Narratively, though, it feels like a collection of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford anecdotes, without overall themes or specific conclusions. The miniseries, otoh, goes for the the Sunset Boulevard (btw: there’s a great little reference to it during an escalating Davis/Crawford argument) approach of witty, biting and ultimately tragic Hollywood on Hollywood; if Bette Davis comes across as the more “likeable” of the two women, it’s ultimately Joan Crawford whose tragedy it is, and who has the most clear cut narrative arc, from her decision to find a project for herself and Bette Davis in the series opener to her death in the finale.

You mean all this time, we could have been friends? )
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
I was born in 1969, which means I was in school and just making the transition from child to teenager when Helmut Kohl became chancellor. By the time he was voted out of office, he’d been Chancellor for sixteen years. (Hence one of his nicknames: The Eternal Chancellor.) He died yesterday, the tributes haven’t stopped coming in, and as when Genscher and before him Helmut Schmidt died, I feel both a bit of history and a part of what formed my life when I was young has gone; I feel my own mortality.

Not because I was a fan. I never voted for him, not being a conservative. I disagreed with various of his policies. But when I look back, it occurs to me that growing up when I did, I internalized at least two of his core beliefs – that the European Union is our future, central to avoiding the horrors of the past (by which I don’t just mean WWII but centuries of European warfare), and that the French-German relationship is central for this. It’s no accident that probably the Kohl photograph included the most in the tributes both national and international was the one depicting him holding hands with Mitterand at Verdun. Of course, no post war German chancellor was likely to neglect France for obvious reasons, but Kohl, hailing from the Palatinate near the French border which during various French-German wars was always likely to be among the first regions to be devastated during those centuries of warfare, really made wooing the French personal. (And kept it up beyond office; till Mitterand’s death, they met at least once a month.)

(My favourite Kohl and Mitterand joke goes somewhat like this: Kohl during a state visit in Speyer inflicts his favourite dish, stuffed belly of pork, on Mitterand , who first looks appalled. Then Kohl whispers something into his ear, and suddenly Mitterand eats with all signs of enthusiasm and finishes the meal. Later, Kohl’s sidekicks want to know what he said, and Kohl reveals: “I said: If you don’t eat up, Francois, you’re getting the Saarland back.”)

Among the many obituaries trying to sum up the man, from chronically underestimated hedgehog to everyone else’s hare outmanoeuvring all rivals to lonely giant incapable of admitting mistakes or accepting criticism, I think this one works best for me, not uncritical (unsurprisingly, since it’s by Der Spiegel, a magazine Kohl saw as the enemy, but also respectful of his achievements. (Whereas, say, the obituary in the Guardian felt downright mean spirited.) I’m still trying to figure out what I feel. Not sadness; both because there would have had to have been affection first, and because he was in a very bad physical state, and had been for years. It is more like what you feel when you see a giant glacier which had been melting for many years at last dissolving into water and earth, and only then you understand that the sight of the glacier, the awareness of it, had been part of the landscape that told you who you were.
selenak: (Bruce and Tony by Corelite)
Tomorrow, in a year (8124 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Agent Carter (TV), Captain America (Movies), Iron Man (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Peggy Carter & Howard Stark, Howard Stark & Everyone, Abraham Erskine & Howard Stark, Steve Rogers & Howard Stark
Characters: Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, Abraham Erskine, Werner Heisenberg, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Konrad Zuse, Fritz Haber
Additional Tags: For Science!, Dubious Ethics, Ethics, Nuclear Weapons, Chemical Weapons, Computers, Morality, Historical
Summary:

Inventions, the consequences they have and the choices you make: Three encounters Howard Stark has with German scientists he does and doesn't work with.



This was my [community profile] ssrconfidential story for this year. The reason why I assumed it was patently obvious who authored it was that, well, who else among this year’s participants would write about Howard having debates with a bunch of German scientists?

The prompt had asked for Howard Stark recruiting, via Operation Paperclip, the top German cybernetics expert in order to meddle in artificial life. This to me sounded like it was going for a tale with a Nazi robot on the rampage, which yours truly would not have been keen to write (there were other prompts by my recipient I’d have then gone for), but at the same time, the phrasing left me just wriggle room enough to come up with something more interesting and challenging to me, on the subject of Howard and German scientists. Given that the MCU has Howard Stark as a participant in the Manhattan project, and that I’m a fan of Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen about Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, I already knew there’d be a Howard & German nuclear physicists encounter in my story.

Canonically, Howard worked with Abraham Erskine who in the MCU hails from Augsburg (like Bertolt Brecht) and thus most definitely qualifies as a German scientist, so the first Erskine-Stark encounter was a given opener for the story. Now the MCU Wikipedia has them meeting in 1934 at a conference in Switzerland, which sounds a bit unlikely given the birth year the same entry provides for Howard, but Switzerland in 1934 was also where Fritz Haber died, which made it a must for me. Because if there is someone ideal to embody the two sides of science and to kick start the question as to what the responsibilities of a scientist are, it’s the inventor of fertilizers and weaponized chlorine gas. Also, given Erskine’s age it made sense to make him a colleague and friend of Fritz Haber’s whose WWI experience gave him the original idea for what became the supersoldier serum.
(BTW, having recently had Fritz Haber on my mind for this story made me go “so…does Haber not exist in the DCU?” when a certain character in the new Wonder Woman was introduced.)

But I still needed a computer genius which was what the prompt had asked for, after all. Did we even have those in that era, I wondered, researched a bit, and found out about Konrad Zuse, fascinating computer inventor with a sideline in painting, two of whose war time created computers even were in the city where I lived, Munich. Zuse’s memoirs were also available for reading and contributed such details as his fondness for Fritz Lang’s movie Metropolis, language difficulties and other personal details which made it into the story. I was tempted to call the Zuse section “Zuse and Stark”, after “Einstein and Eddington”, that, or: "Science Bros: The First Generation", but you might as well have called it Iron Man 0.1, because it’s also a riff on Tony’s origin story as well as a contrast – one of my betas, asked to guess the prompt for the story, thought it must have been “Why Howard Stark didn’t become Iron Man”, and while I hadn’t thought of it like that at first, yes, that’s also one of the themes. Father and son are very similar, but there are also differences, both in circumstance and reaction to certain situations.

Lastly: I apologize for giving Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker my “Hydra makes no sense” rant. But Hydra makes no sense.
selenak: (Abigail Brand by Handyhunter)
Wonder Woman was a very enjoyable comic book movie. I haven't read any of the WW comics or any others featuring her, so I had no other versions to compare this Diana to. What immediately struck me, though, was the difference to the other recent DC movies. Because it seems this particular director and scriptwriter (writers?) finally managed to chuck the moroseness that passes for depth out of the window and instead came up with, oh wonder, a heroine who enjoys what and who she is and is an unabashed, heart-on-her-sleeve do-gooder. Also, she's kind. Not many people in the superhero business are, especially after the 80s. She has a learning arc, and I thought the balance between naivete, learning about the darker side of the 'verse and keeping core beliefs regardless was well struck.

The trailers had me a bit worried because of the WWI setting, this war being not one prone to good versus bad stories, and I was concerned that they simply made it I instead of II to avoid the inevitable Captain America comparisons and completely ignore the bloody mess the "Great War" was. Turns out the script actually made WWI story and themes relevant. Mind you, it needed still a great deal of handwavium. DC geography and history is not of our world, clearly. )

The reason why I didn't mind all this is that Diana's big realisation moment could not have happened in WWII and was very WWI specific; to wit: It gets spoilery again. )

Other things: liked the cast and the ensemble, really liked that Diana being a warrior and Diana being kind and compassionate was never presented as paradoxical or in conflict with each other but as one driving the other, wished Snyder's lasting legacy, the slow mo fighting, would finally stop but wasn't bothered enough in this instance to mind, and was grateful that for all the "fish out of water" humor, Diana wasn't presented as childlike or somehow unaware of sexuality just because she hadn't been in contact with a man before.

In conclusion: a deserved hit.

P.S. Now I remember I did encounter Diana in the comics before, in a flashback. In Mike Carey's story about Lyta Hall post Sandman, The Furies, it's revealed Lyta is the daughter of Diana and Steve Trevor. (It's a single panel, a memory that haunts Lyta of her early childhood and her mother.) I suppose that makes Diana the grandmother of one of the Endless?
selenak: (Cosima by Karlsefni)
Hm, I felt a complete emotional disconnect. Not because the episode was bad: it did what a season opener is supposed to, resolved some cliffhangers, showed what more or less the entire ensemble was doing, set up new stuff for the season, Tatiana Maslany is as good as ever in her various roles - but for some reason, I'm not feeling emotionally involved at all. Maybe it will come back to me? On to an actual review:

Read more... )
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
In which Saul hasn't just entered the building but has taken over the office, so to speak, and it's heartbreaking. (In a great show kind of way.)

Read more... )

Profile

selenak: (Default)
selenak

July 2017

S M T W T F S
       1
2 3 45 6 7 8
9 10 11121314 15
16 17 18 19202122
23 2425 26 272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 28 July 2017 10:58
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios