Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Mill and the Cross

Poland 2011

Details IMDB
Seen 30 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.9/10

The film focuses on a dozen of the 500 characters depicted in Bruegel's painting. The theme of Christ's suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

I was attracted by the three actors in the film, Rutger Hauer, Michael York and Charlotte Rampling. Having one of them would light up any story and having three gives a different glow to the entire proceedings.

Those who want a fast paced sequence of events should avoid watching this depiction of how a painting comes alive. Layers of paint are applied in each scene. Savour it slowly and you will be rewarded.

Friday, May 30, 2014


Poland 1990

Details IMDB
Seen 29 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.5/10

Account of the last days of life of the legendary Polish pedagogue Janusz Korczak and his heroic dedication to protecting Jewish orphans during the war

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

The atrocities of war affects everyone. In this case even children from the orphanage. The good doctor tries his best to save the children but what exactly can he do considering the situation. The plan to deport them had been set and any effort to change that decision is futile.

Fated being born of a certain group
That choice was not in our hands
Children with all their dreams and hopes
Are the same

Tomorrow might not wait for them

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lost in Beijing (Ping guo)

China 2007

Details IMDB
Seen 21 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.8/10

A look at modern-day life in China's capital centered on a ménage-a-quatre involving a young woman, her boss, her husband and her boss's wife

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

The life in a big city. The rich who has made it in life. In contrast those who are just starting, struggling trying to make a decent life. The big man who takes advantage of the weak, the wife who tolerates his wanderings.

Money in this story does not bring that happiness that everyone wants. It is ultimately just a tool, a means to a more comfortable life and a head start for the young. The young is always the priority.

Watch it for the scenes when the characters do not have to say a word but let questions linger.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Three Monleys (Üç maymun)

Turkey 2008

Details IMDB
Seen 20 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.4/10

A family suffers from a major communication breakdown during their struggle to get through their hardships.

My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

That first step, agreeing to be part of a plan in exchange for money is itself a harbinger of future disaster. All seemed so simple at the beginning but when your wants get the better of you, the plan goes awry.

The main actors hold the audience's attention with sparse dialogue relying instead on their facial attractions and body movements. They managed to convey that inner struggle each of them were facing during those uncertain times. No one knows of a definite answer.

Each event flowing
Like the waves in the ocean
Hurling itself to the shore
Before retreating

Back to a normal state

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Hunt (Jagten)

Denmark 2012

Details IMDB
Seen 14 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 8.3/10

A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie

My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

Whenever a child is involved in a crime involving an adult, the sympathies will almost always be on that child's side. The accused adult has a hard time trying to prove his innocence. The incident automatically made everyone suspicious of the suspect. Even his circle of friends abandon and ostracise him.

The child actor managed to bring to the screen a believable tale. The silent moments and glances convey her inner turmoil effortlessly. A story that could happen anywhere as accusations is always easy to make. Unfortunately proving you have not done anything wrong is very difficult. The uncertainty remains for some.

A satisfying watch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Don't drink the water

USA 1994

Details IMDB
Seen 13 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.3/10

Somewhere behind the early 1960s cold-war iron curtain, the Hollander family cause an international spying incident when Walter photographs a sunset in a sensitive region

My ratings 6.0/10

My impressions:

A Woody Allen would not be one without the rapid fire dialogue. In this story, that trademark is evident. That is also its failing in a way as the audience must be alert to catch all the little snippets. The cast worked well together as the director managed to bring out the best from each of them.

It not the best from Woody Allen but still entertaining.

Special circumstances bring
Different people together
However strange it may seem
Unbelievable even
Love blossoms

Mistakes, blunders, errors
Throughout the life of a man
They accompany him

Time for a change
To bolster your own self confidence
To forge a new life
A new destiny

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Ambassador

Denmark 2011

Details IMDB
Seen 12 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.3/10

Danish journalist Mads Brügger goes undercover as a Liberian Ambassador to embark on a dangerous yet hysterical journey to uncover the blood diamond trade in Africa

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

A story that tries to show the inner workings of the blood diamond trade in Africa. Seen from the perspective of an outsider who is trying to pass himself off as a consul. That cover is supposed to make him immune from the usual checks when he travels to and from that country with lots of cash or diamonds.

A comedy at one level as it shows how unprepared the main character is when he faces difficult situations. A sad reality on another level. The danger and dealings are accepted routines in the country.

The daily lives of its citizens.
Far removed from the riches
Gained from the mineral abundant

The gains are for those in power
Those with connections

A wrong move
A wrong decision
Might signal the end of all plans

But others continue coming
Following their dreams
That one day
They will strike it rich

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Whole Shootin' Match

USA 1978

Details rogerebert

Seen 11 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.5/10

Two friends trying hard to make a living. Are they on the right track after previous failed attempts.

My ratings 7.5/10

My impressions:

Luck is definitely not on their side
Failures more than successes
Or has there ever been a successes

An average income
Nothing to be proud of
The butt of jokes
That is their second name

Flings, drinks, a good time
A respite from the grind
A regular routine
Not spectacular, but mundane

Would their lives change when
That big great idea is sold and marketed
Or have they jumped the gun

Expecting too much from that one idea
Hoping that this will be the turning point

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Round da way (Lascars)

France 2009

Details IMDB

Seen 10 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.0/10

Tony and Jose are best friends and petty crooks, but tension strikes the duo when Jose falls for the rich Clemence and wants to go straight

My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

I got hooked from the first strains of the music and opening scene. There is an infectious feel to the whole story. The script might be simple, following a tried and tested story line. A guy from the wrong side of town falling for the rich girl. But of course, things do not go according to plan. There are obstacles along the way.

There is always tests
Where matters of love is concerned

Attraction to another
Who seem to be so incompatible

Trials and tribulations
Would always be there
Until true love
Finds its way


Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Death of Mr Lazarescu (Moartea domnului Lazarescu)

Romania 2005

Details IMDB

Seen 9 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.9/10

Mr. Lazarescu, a 63 year old lonely man feels sick and calls the ambulance. That is the beginning of a long night.

My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

The main character has his own ideas on what is making him sick. From the moment he calls the ambulance, the nightmare of being alone and sick fills the screen. The neighbours might be helpful but up to a certain extent. The emergency services try their best to send him to get the proper care that he needs, but there are obstacles along the way.

Is the health care system responsible
For the state of affairs
For the well being of each citizen

Doctors, nurses, paramedics are underpaid, overworked
A common occurrence in most places
They try their best
That is what they are trained to do
But do patients have a responsibility too

Taking care of their health as far as possible
So as to lessen the burden on the system

A vicious cycle

Friday, May 09, 2014

The Face You Deserve (A Cara que Mereces)

Portugal 2004

Details cinematheque

Seen 8 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.1/10

A man turning 30.

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

The beginning of the film gives a glimpse of what lies ahead. The main character, Francisco will be 30 and he seems to be ambivalent about that milestone. When the celebrations for the party did not go as planned we see him in a different light.

The director uses the major part of the film after the canceled birthday party scene to show the different facets of a man.

Does a man ever change
When he reaches a certain age
Does he need to change
When that moment comes along

Can he remain the same
Retaining the past
As a stepping stone
For bigger challenges
That lie ahead

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)

Italy 2013

Details IMDB

Seen 7 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.7/10

Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, but after his 65th birthday and a shock from the past, Jep looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty

My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

The birthday celebration brings back memories
Each street, each building has its part
In making him what he is
In the past when he was just starting
And now an established name

There is that nagging recurring question
Why did that one relationship
End the way it did

New friends, encounters, lovers
Could never equal or be the same
As that which has passed

That is the best

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Missing Picture (L'image manquante)

Cambodia 2013

Details IMDB

Seen 6 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.4/10

Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage, and his narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia's Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979

My ratings 8.0/10

My impressions:

The different techniques used to depict what happened gave a different feel from the usual style audiences are used to seeing. We do not know see any reenactment of the past using actors but through the eyes of the puppets. The static position of the puppets seem to echo the dead, as if time stood still during those years..

A haunting experience.

It is unbelievable
Such atrocities were even thought of
With no distinction
Between the weak, the young, the infirm
Everyone was supposed to be an equal

But as always there
Are equals who are more equal than others

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Phantom Love

USA 2007

Details IMDB

Seen 5 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 6.3/10

A surreal drama about an alienated family set in Koreatown, Los Angeles and Rishikesh, India

My ratings 6.0/10

My impressions:

Seemingly unrelated sequences is presented to the audience. Images of childhood, love making and at work on its own own does not make sense at all. It fits the definition of surreal perfectly. Very strange and unusual.

Watch at your own risk.

The present shaped, influenced
By what happened in the past
How does one confront
The recurring dreams or nightmares
Or has it merged into reality
An overpowering presence

Monday, May 05, 2014

Volcano (Eldfjall)

Iceland 2011

Details IMDB

Seen 4 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.2/10

Hannes is an old man who has grown apart from his children. Recently retired when his wife gets ill he tries to reconcile with them and to atone for his cold demeanor in the past

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

Uncaring, grouchy, touchy
All negatives, that is what they see

She knows better, he knows it too
That despite those outbursts
There is a deeper shared love
Between them

They have weathered the storm
They have gone through the years

In sickness, and in health
In unexpected ways
The test has come

He will try as best as he can
To live up to that promise
Others may doubt it
He is adamant that
He will not give up
He will persevere

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Habibie & Ainun

Indonesia 2012

Details wikipedia

Seen 3 May 2014

Ratings from other sources
IMDB 7.9/10

This film is based on the memoir written by Habibie, the 3rd President of Indonesia about his wife, Hasri Ainun Habibie, in his book " Habibie and Ainun"

My ratings 7.0/10

My impressions:

It has been written
They shall meet and be

Through good and bad times

A pledge to be

Sacrifices were made for a cause
To see a dream come true
The wealth of the nation for all
To empower the masses

It is ambitious

Men and women in the end
Are human
Weaknesses and strength

A cycle through time