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    2011 Oscars
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Vere i zavere

Treasons and dissapointments
At this time this TV series can be seen for free on the official site of RTV, so this is a warm recommendation to see it. The main reason is the bounty of powerful, emotional scenes. The spectator gets to live through characters' disappointments, humiliations and treasons and feel it all with them.

This is an adaptation of a novel from Aleksandar Tisma, perhaps the best known Vojvodinian writer outside Serbia. It is quite faithful. The only drawback (other that the title that I dislike) may be that it is a few episodes too long; it slows down around a bit 9th or 10th episode, but picks up the pace again in the finale.

The acting is very inspired from most of the crew. I want to single out two actors that may not be so well-known yet, but who (I feel) made the performances of their careers so far. The first is Bojan Zirovic as Patak and the other Ivan Djordjevic as Stepanov.

Ime naroda

A history lesson
Whether this movie will be interesting to anyone outside Serbia, I do not know. For me, its main appeal is the fact that the protagonists are several people important for Serbian history. Let me say just a few words to try to describe what I mean.

Most of the movie takes place in Novi Sad. The main square of Novi Sad is (unofficially) Miletic's Square, dominated by the statue of the youngest mayor of the city in history. Almost each time you want to meet someone in the city center, you meet at Miletic's. Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj was one of greatest poets in Serbia, excelling both in children's and adult poetry. The most famous street in Novi Sad, reserved for pedestrians, starts from Miletic's square; it is called Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj Street. Milica Tomic, Miletic's daughter, was one of the most prominent women in the political and social life of the time, and one of the first fighters for gender equality. Herself, Jasa Tomic and Misa Dimitrijevic also have important streets in Novi Sad named by them. So to watch their lives unfold should mean much to anyone from Novi Sad, especially knowing about their deep mutual connections. It is nice to compare this to the biopic of another Serbian poet, Laza Kostic, filmed several years ago, where some of these characters also appear significantly.

Now for the movie itself: I must admit I liked it very much. Like most Serbian historical movies, it has a sort of sterile look about it. What I mean is that much attention is given to costumes, scenography etc.; perhaps it all looks too perfect, not real-life like. However, this is annulled by great acting from some of the cast. First of all, Ljubomir Bandovic simply becomes Miletic, and his transformation toward the end, as the character deteriorates, is fascinating. Also, Zarko Lausevic excels as Zmaj, just as he did in most of his earlier roles. And the story itself seems to be quite faithful to the truth, possibly with one exception: it seems to me that Dimitrijevic is made a bad guy, while in reality he was also an important figure of the time; he simply took a more moderate path, which sometimes gives better results than the radical one.

To summarize: for anyone in Serbia, this is well worth watching. But it may be that this story will appeal to others as well.


A partial explanation
It seems that reviewers mostly have a problem with the plot being unconvincing. Well, I am quite certain that it is not supposed to be taken literally. For example, the prostitute and her boyfriend don't know how to name their baby. This could mean that they don't have plans laid out for their future, but live day by day. On the other hand, the two main characters have a plan: they will hustle both sides on the elections and take their money. And this is the main thing: Depardieu does not really play two different characters. And he does not kill himself literally, but only in the eyes of his lover. Actually, she is so disappointed with something he does during the hustle that she perceives him as a whole new man that she does not love anymore. He tries to explain that he did what he did for her love. And when the time comes that she finally buries him (in her heart) she realizes that she still loves him. Dying his hair symbolizes that he again becomes the man she knew before. However, even if I got all this right there are still many mysteries about this movie that I don't understand, which resulted in my not enjoying it so much. For example, what does the newspaper guy (Brialy) represent? In particular, his testament was most puzzling. Perhaps someone else will be able to finish this explanation...


An interpretation (read after watching)
Petar is a hard-working guy. Being also unscrupulous at his job, he managed to climb high. His private lifestyle is hedonistic. He takes what we desires, not caring a bit about others. He is not evil, just cold. One day his wife Mina disappears. I believe this should not be understood literally. Actually, they lost contact, she is out of his reach. His concern is not to find her, but to maintain the appearance of his perfect life. (Remember the guy he drives home from party, who believes that Petar has not a problem in life.) But something outside bothers him. It is presented as humidity. He runs around (like the dog on a video he watches) but can not shake the feeling that something is missing. Like in the song: Something's happening here, but you don't know what it is... do you, Mr. Djokic? Some people consider the bed scene at the beginning unnecessary. I think is shows us the moment when Mina realized what she is missing in her life with Petar. Her lover whispers poetry in her ear and she repeats. Affection, tenderness, togetherness. Of course, I may be wrong with most of this. Nevertheless, a movie that makes one think and leaves room for interpretations certainly deserves to be better rated than it it at the moment.

La madriguera

Another wonderful Saura
If you liked other Saura early strange movies, such as Peppermint Frappé and Ana y los lobos, you will certainly like this one. I was not able to discover any political metaphors (present in his other films from the period) here, which does not mean that there are none. Instead, I like to see it as a study of a marriage. Two people, feeling estranged from each other, decide to play games of taking roles to make each other more content. As the games advance, it gets harder and harder to return to reality... And Geraldine Chaplin is so beautiful here, you can feel how deeply Saura was in love with her...

Rode u magli

Lost in the Fog
This TV movie follows the extremely successful TV series "Vratice se rode". Unfortunately, it is very, very bad. It seems like someone decided to make a New Year special 10 days before, the writers had no time to come up with a script, so everyone just improvised. The only thing resembling a plot is about a new character, Ekser's buddy from the orphanage, and it makes no sense whatsoever. To make things worse, it lasts for over 2 hours and 20 minutes. It is a pity, since there they had some great actors with already developed characters. However, one needs at least a shred of an idea to make a movie.

Shokei no heya

Great Ichikawa
Made several years after WW2, this movie can surely be observed in two ways. The first: the deepening of the generation gap. The (anti)hero is a disillusioned young man, trying hard to believe in nothing. The term "emotional impotence" mentioned in the synopsis says it all. He has no empathy for anyone around. He is quite intelligent, but his urge is not to create, only to destroy and negate all values around him. On the other hand, he could be representing the post-war Japan. His parents are a disappointment. He allows himself no emotion. He would rather destroy himself as well as his friends/allies than admit he was wrong in anything. Once again I was convinced of diversities and richness of the great Ichikawa opus...

Tu mi turbi

Lots of fun
This is an early Benigni showing his great comedy potential. There are four stories, connected only by the main actor. The first is also the funniest, with Benigni as a clumsy shepherd babysitting little Jesus Christ for a night. Full of blasphemous moments, and still quite innocent, the story offers an alternative origin of many moments from the later life of Jesus. The second one is an allegory of married life, with a few twists. Also very amusing. The third one may be the weakest, about a man getting a loan from the bank. However, it seems to me that quite a few jokes were lost in translation; I only managed to decipher a few. The last story is about two watchmen guarding the eternal flame beside Altare della Patria. Benigni is bored and bothers his mate with childish and silly jokes, bothering all of us in the way... To recapitulate, it is a funny little film, and Benigni fans won't be dissapointed.

The Emperor Waltz

Oh Great America!
This is a very silly movie. On the other hand, it does not try for a moment to appear serious, so it may be forgiven for that; it even has a certain charm provided by Wilder, one of the greatest directors of his age. However, this is not just a shallow and funny story. It is also a propaganda piece for America and its free-minded liberty. You see Europeans chained by traditions and customs, and an American so beautifully free that he yells at the mighty emperor, calls him names, holds his hands in his pockets while talking to him and whatnot. He explains all the stupid Europeans that love is above all and that all their lifestyles are pure nonsense. He even saves poor puppies from the evil count. Now, I don't hate Americans. I am all for liberty and against class division. However, advertising it so bluntly and putting yourself above all others is something I detest. And I am not prepared to swallow such messages if they are packed in sweet packages like this one. So there.

Le jouet

(How) can you own a person?
Superficially viewed, this is a silly (but amusing) comedy. The story is not realistic: a wealthy man buys his spoiled son a journalist as a toy. However, what is the movie really saying? That a powerful man can buy a journalist for his own purposes. This is exactly what is happening in my country nowadays (and has been happening in many other places and in many other periods). People on the verge of existence abandon their principles and trade their jobs for serving a crooked government. They are aware that what they are doing is unethical and embarrassing, but they feel they have no choice. Let me mention a particular scene: a colleague comes to beg the journalist to stop doing it, and starts demonstrations in front of the bosses house. Instead of obeying him, the journalist starts playing Indians with the kid. So everybody stops paying attention to the demonstrations. This may seem random and senseless, but reminds me of so many diversions a government creates to take the public attention from really important things that happen. So, maybe I am overanalyzing this movie and all this was not the writes intention?... Take a look for yourself and decide.

Milan - Dar

Worth a look
This is a very nice complement to better-known "Santa Maria della Salute" by the same director, made 30 years later. It begins about the time "Santa Maria" ends, with Laza Kostic married, but many more prominent people in Serbia needing help to survive, neglected by the autocratic king Aleksandar Obrenovic. Milan Savic devoted much of his life to helping them, and he was one of the best known Serbs of the time. The movie is very well done (in my opinion, better than "Santa Maria"), with many great actors bringing their characters into life again. Especially enjoyable is the scene depicting the attempt to marry Jovan Cvijic to a rich heiress, with hilarious Mira Banjac and Drago Cuma. Funny and tragic at the same time...

Yume jû-ya

Ikebana with ten different flowers
Such variety of styles, paces, technical devices... Everyone who is not looking just for cheap fun should be able to find something for himself, yet I am sure nobody will like all the segments. On the other hand, every segment will be a favorite for someone... I read the Soseki book just before watching the movie and I highly recommend this order of moves. Each story is only a few pages long. However only the Ichikawa segment is more-or-less straight adaptation of the second story; others use the stories only to begin with and develop their own visions of them. The eight segment is another extreme: at least I could not make any connection with the barbershop story. Some segments are creepy, some just funny. What is common to all stories/segments is that they are philosophical, each addressing one universal topic of the human life.

The Singer Not the Song

Mixed emotions
This movie leaves so many various impressions on a viewer, it is impossible to form a final opinion. To begin with, it is a British western, with two great British actors in the leads. Then, there is the actress, looking quite like Bardot. And then, even the atmosphere reminded me of "Et Dieu... crea la femme" in certain scenes (Bogarde called it camp, and you can see why). During certain scenes you are thinking that it will go the way of other movies with similar plot ("Satan never sleeps" is an example), ending in infinite praise of the religion, without measure or sense. But then it turns the other way and surprises you. And in the end you come to see that even some deep religious deeds can be interpreted as acts of latent homosexual love... I know it sound bad but, somehow, unlike modern movies, the topic is introduced subtly. Anyway, you should see it yourself and decide whether you like it or not...

The Forsyte Saga

Given the money being invested in TV shows nowadays, it is unlikely that most viewers will be swept away with "The Forsyte Saga" from the very beginning. Although the acting, costumes and scenography are good, some of it seems modest compared with the likes of "The Crown"; for me the weakest side of it was the aging of characters: some of them look the same in the beginning and 30 years later. However, once you get acquainted with the characters you are drawn into their world. The beautiful thing is that you can sympathize with all of the main personas, share their dilemmas and misfortunes. Especially distinctive is Soames, being portrayed far more human and fragile than in the novels (at least as I remember them). The last two episodes are among the most emotional stuff I have seen lately.

Les possédés

An incomplete adaptation
Nikolai Stavrogin is a person that tries to prove his freedom by believing in nothing and mocking everything and everyone around him. Unfortunately, he is also a handsome and charismatic man, influencing many people. So, "the devils went out of this Russian man and entered into a herd of swine..."; his eloquent (but meaning nothing to himself) speeches leave deep marks in others and cause a lot of suffering and even death.

Although Stavrogin is the central character of the Dostoyevsky's novel, in this movie it is not so. He disappears about half an hour before the end. Instead, the movie is focused on Shatov, the only character one could possibly identify with. I guess Wajda wanted us to see the story from Shatov's viewpoint.

Some parts of this story are transferred to screen nicely; however other important parts are only touched or completely missing. Many important characters pass unnoticed. I guess the natural thing to think is that such a complex and long novel can not be faithfully dramatized. However, having seen a theater adaptation in Narodno pozorište in Belgrade, I can testify that this is not true. I would probably think much more of this movie if I haven't previously seen the play.

I wonder whether someone who hasn't read the novel could follow the plot. My impression is that they couldn't, and that the movie addresses mostly those who have.

There are also other minor objections. For example, Isabelle Huppert gets first billing although she appears for less than 10 minutes. Nevertheless, the movie complements the book fine and I feel that Dostoyevsky admirers should see it.

Das Mädchen vom Moorhof

A northern romance
The core of this film is a girl's sacrifice, a motive familiar from the better-known Lagerlof adaptation "The Phantom Carriage". It is perhaps interesting that this story was also previously adapted as a silent film by Victor Sjostrom.

The movie is quite faithful to the book. There are only minor differences, where Sirk uses nicely advantages of visual presentation; for example the scene of committing perjury at the beginning is followed by a close-up of a woman's hands, twitching in fear of witnessing a deadly sin. Also, several references to supernatural things are added, which is a nice nod to other Lagerlof works (a short story about an elf guarding farmers' houses; unfortunately I don't know its English title).

All in all, enough reasons for lovers of classic movies / adaptations / romances to see this one too.

Paviljon VI

Would you dance with the madman, over the hills and far away?
This is a very faithful adaptation of one of Chekhov's best-known stories. Although a Yugoslav movie, with some of the all-time best Balkan actors, it was directed by a Romanian director, Lucian Pintilie, who later made quite a few films that were very successful at film festivals (Cannes, Venice).

The plot touches many questions that have been bothering the humanity throughout centuries; there are citations from Marcus Aurelius, Diogenes and other classical philosophers. What is madness? Can one be in control of his own destiny? Is there any meaning to existence? Of course, we don't get any specific answers, but are left wondering and even (after 90 minutes of listening to the excruciating soundtrack of the movie, resembling the sound of a train) questioning our own sanity.

To conclude, this is not a movie anyone will enjoy, but certainly one to give you something to think of.

The Naked and the Dead

Very disappointing
The novel "The naked and the Dead" is often considered impossible to adapt to a movie, and it certainly was in the 50s, when every other sentence spoken in the book had to be censored, and it was desirable to alter the ending, not just by killing "the bad guy" and allowing "the good guy" to survive, but also by changing the meaning of the ending from Meaninglessness to Heroism.

But this is not even the main reason why I dislike the movie. The main reason is that it completely destroyed the characters. In the book there are NO good guys and bad guys; you may hate Croft but you are aware that many characters are still alive just because of him; and Hearn is by no means such a perfect guy, just an ordinary one.

Many events from the book happen in the movie too, but without giving them any meaning or any accompanying emotions. For example, Gallagher receives the letter saying that his wife died. And - nothing of it; we don't even get to see his reaction. But in the book he keeps receiving letters from her, tormenting him into believing that she is still alive. Another example: we never get to feel the hardships of going through the thick jungle for a whole day, which occupy much of the book; it is much easier to include a snake bite instead to show us how the jungle is brutal.

Let us hope that once we will see a movie that will capture this great book more honestly...


This movie is loosely based on Nobel prize winner Ivo Andric's short story "Put Alije Djerdjeleza" ("The Voyage of Alija Djerdjelez"). However, many events are added, and the main character is considerably changed: he is not lust-crazed but haunted by the blood spilled in his many military campaigns.

The title means "ghazi", a distinguished Muslim warrior. Indeed, at the beginning we see Alija as a fearless warrior, respected by all. But, just like Shakespeare's Coriolanus, war is his all life, and he is not able to deal with other people. So many hate him, and even he loathes some of his actions.

In the movie you can also see a reconstruction of life in Balkans under the Turks. There are many fine actors in minor roles as well. It is certainly a worthwhile viewing.

Les bonnes causes

A treat
I must say I really enjoyed this movie, in many ways. I'll have to include several spoilers to explain how.

First, the story is engaging. Although we know "who did it" almost from the beginning, it makes it even more interesting to follow the investigation.

Even more I enjoyed the actors and their characters. Marina Vlady's is extremely repulsive, but she carries it in such way that you keep wondering: could you resist her charms yourself? Virna Lisi shows another kind of beauty, fragile but just as irresistible. Bourvil's character is actually two persons: until the last half hour he is a Columbo-type investigator, full of self-confidence, playing with the criminal; then he breaks down as he realizes that he is powerless to resolve the case. And Pierre Brasseur is so annoying as the lawyer, omnipotent when in charge of the case, but a toy in his lover's hands.

The ending I like the best, not leaving us with any illusion about the possibility of reaching the justice. Even if the court changes the decision, it will be just a consequence of the lawyer's moves in his immoral game...

I fratelli Corsi

Try another version
If you saw other Italian "historical" movies from this period then you know what to expect:

-Terrible acting,

-Beautiful girls,

-Awful dialogue, and

-Brain-insulting twists in the story.

I guess all the positive things (apart from the ladies :)) about this movie are what is taken from the book, so I guess it would be better to look for another version.

Just to make one thing clear: I am a fan of classic movies, and this being old is by no means the reason for disliking it. It is simply bad.

The High Bright Sun

Almost great
I like many things about this movie. First, the story. Although it certainly has flaws, it is very interesting. All the time I was watching the movie I was trying to decide if the British and the Cyprus people were portrayed objectively or not. With the exception of few scenes (boys with a knife in the beginning and the character of Hagios) I think they are. For most of the movie Bogarde is not a nice guy at all. This only goes to show the wide variety of roles he embodied.

And I must say that I don't understand other people's negative comments about Susan Strasberg, I think she was great here. And most of all, she was gorgeous, in a natural way.

If only the plot was relieved from a few clumsy turns, it could have been a great movie...

Na mesto, gradjanine Pokorni!

"There are many nice people in the world"...
...says Cule Pokorni (pokorni=obedient), a believer in the human honesty and honor. All around him, people find various ways to make money, from petty swindles to drug dealing. His best man, the Reporter, is full of phrases, but it doesn't prevent him to use company's car as his own. Even his mother, with all her rules about a woman's (her daughter-in-law's) duties to her man, forgets them when it comes to herself.

It may seem that this is just a crazy charade with immortal comedians Mija & Čkalja, and it does provide quite a few laughs, but it also reveals the dark sides of the society. People respect you only if they depend on you. Perhaps the best line is the one Cule says when the kids demand the chocolate bars he promised them: "How quickly they become men"... And in the end, Cule is alone again, with nobody who understands him, except maybe the striptease dancer, the only one not pretending to be what she is not.

Vecernja zvona

Very memorable
This is a story of Tomislav K., an early member of communist resistance in Yugoslavia during WW2. His name is probably a reference to Josef K., because he is also frequently tossed around by life circumstances without power to prevent it.

Tomislav is a flesh-and-blood character, not without fear, and certainly not able to resist his passionate nature at all times. He is neither "the good guy" nor "the bad guy", so you certainly cannot categorize this movie into the majority of propaganda films about the war, being made in Yugoslavia at the time. You will see both the Ustaša's war crimes and the communist's post-war chaos during the Tito-Stalin feud, in the course of which anybody could send to jail anybody else by simply accusing him of being a Stalinist.

(Spoilers are about to appear) Whoever saw a Zafranović movie before, knows that they should expect many scenes aimed to shock and to be remembered. Some of them are full of horror (the truck full of dismembered bodies), and some of them very sensual (Tomislav making love to his sister-in-law, played by gorgeous Ljiljana Blagojević, while she is in fever).

To conclude, I recommend this movie, especially to anyone who knows the basic facts about the history of Balkans.

Super 8 Stories

Things you should know...
I guess this documentary might seem a bit senseless to an outsider, someone not from ex-Yugoslavia. So let me try to explain what it means to me.

First, the lead singer, Nele Karajlić. He's one of the funniest and at the same time most intelligent people I had the opportunity to see and hear. One of the co-founders of the original "No Smoking Orchestra" (before Kusturica joined), the band that was lyrically probably the best in the history of rock in Yugoslavia. He planted so much soul into his songs... One of those songs is performed in the movie, too: "Nedjelja kad je otišao Hase", apparently about a football player but really about the death of Tito, legendary (if not always loved) Yugoslav president. But he was also a lead member of "Top lista nadrealista", a low-budget TV show that unfortunately turned out to be incredibly prophetic. In this movie you also have a chance to see one of the clips that predicted the split of Yugoslavia many years before it actually began: the fight of garbagemen from East and West Sarajevo. (The city was indeed torn into such parts during the war!) Nele is a great character, always willing to accept a joke on his own account, as you can see several times during the film. He may not be the best lead vocal in the world, but to me he is unique in every way.

Although I think that the new "No Smoking Orchestra" is nowhere near the old one, still there is no arguing about their worldwide popularity. So many great musicians, and each of them has his own five minutes of glory in this film. There are some incredible moments, like the bass player's shoulder that got dislocated in the middle of the concert, or the guitarist's preparation for the song "Lubenica". The only one that is extremely unlikeable is Kusturica's son, Stribor, the drummer, who seems to be a guy that likes to bully everybody else, including his father.

To conclude, this may not be an objective sort of documentary, but it being so personal is exactly what makes it good.

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