February 25, 2007

Babel: why so much fuss?

I basically hated Babel, from the begining till the end. See the first two comments on this page for reviewers who will explain why they hated the movie and spoil it better than me.

I was moved by the last scene of the Japanese story. But I'm no judge and many Japanese deaf disapproved because their concerns were ignored (they even objected to the actress being nominated for an Academy Award).

Apart from that.

  • Orangerie: reconstitution of the 1934 exhibition "French Realists of the 17th Century". Very meticulous reconstitution work, and some great pieces were exhibited but there was too much distraction (emphasis on the curator, the reconstitution work, the recent renovation of the museum, some modern paintings to be compared to the 17th century ones, etc.) to really appreciate them.
  • The Naked Truth (David Lodge). Good but not great.

February 22, 2007

Culture is good but Linux is better!

I'm now an active member of the linux community, here's my first and only post so far!
Now I need to try to upgrade to the latest kernel, install FUSE and NTFS-3G, all in the hope that I will be able to access my NTFS external hard-drive read/write on this Linux computer...

February 12, 2007

Keeping busy

  • The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) by Florian Henkel von Donnersmark. Impressive, witty, I recommend it warmly.
    It is the first feature-length movie by this director but I don't think anyone could have told so. I thought of the movie as a beautiful and clever defence of freedom of expression. Further, the question I ask myself is how to tell between a country which is ripe for democracy, and a country which isn't. Could East Germany be described as a country from which democracy had been stolen? The East Germans had the same culture as the West Germans who were living in a democracy. But what are the conditions in general for democracy to be possible? Are they cultural? Economic? Is it a question of ethnic unity? Is it worth trying democracy when it can mean the collapse of the country into several ethnic and religious groups?
  • Blood Diamond by Edward Zwick. I went along the first 90 minutes. The rest was much too Rambo-like for me. Too bad because they really made an effort.
  • Il bell'Antonio (1960) by Mauro Bolognini on a screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Gino Visentini, with Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale. There is no resisting Italian cinema, especially with a touch of provocation...
Museums & Exhibitions:
  • Pascin at Musée Maillol. Very original artist, I loved it.
  • Guimet. Went to see the Khmer sculptures. Their collection is so rich, you wonder if they left something in Cambodia. Given what the country has been through, pieces at the Guimet museum were nevertheless better off than those left in the temples and the National Museum of Phnom Penh. Shouldn't they be returned now? It's probably too early but I like to ask the question...
  • Quai Branly. I liked the site because it has a large garden and the largest part of the building is quite nicely suspended above the ground, thus allowing to walk freely unlike the usual monolithic buildings which - even if made of glass - steal the space from us. Well, at least during the day because there is a glass wall and doors all around the complex which prevent people from walking in during the night. And on the south, there is indeed a large building. Overall they claim they built over only half of the surface and 5 meters below the height they were allowed to build. The exhibition is OK, they have some Cambodian artefacts and many objects and fabrics from the hill tribes of Rattanakiri and Vietnam, all of which I was glad to see.
  • Centre Pompidou: a small exhibition about modernism, a photography exhibition I found very interesting, a couple of short movies by Robert Frank, the well-known photographer.
  • Lily la tigresse (לילי לה טיגרס) by Alona Kimhi. The language is beautiful, the story very original and the symbolism is interesting but I was not as moved as I remember being with Suzanne la pleureuse (סוזנה הבוכייה) by the same author.

February 06, 2007

iklimer (Climates)

Climates in English, this movie by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is beautiful. The landscapes of Turkey are magnificient (Ceylan is a photographer). There is not much action but the story makes sense. The acting is good overall although I thought Ebru Ceylan was actually a little bit weak, compared to Nazan Keysal who is a secondary character.

February 05, 2007

Update on activites in Paris

Reading "Lily la tigresse" by Alona Kimhi (same title in Hebrew, i.e. לילי לה טיגרֶס, transliterated from the French, for a reason I hope to learn soon). The author has a lot of imagination, have yet to decide whether she's not too imaginative...

Saw, in addition to "12:08 East of Bucarest" which I already mentioned and which I recommend, "Bobby" (OK but nothing outstanding) and the Israeli movie קרוב לבית ("Close to Home" or, in French, "Une jeunesse comme aucune autre"). It is the first film of both directors, Dalia Hager and Vidi Bilu, and it is quite obvious. There are good ideas in the scenario and in the filming but the dialogues and the acting are rarely convincing. The two main characters, Smadar (Smadar Sayar) and Mirit (Naama Schendar), gain some depth when we understand with time bits of their psychology, but we are frustrated most of the time by seeing the behaviour of the characters without any inkling of their motivations: Do the officers believe in the importance of their job, contrary to Smadar? Do they believe being unforgiving with the soldiers is necessary or do they do it out of habit and because they were trained that way? Do they fear confronting the soldiers on the rationale of their work? Why isn't Smadar motivated by the idea of protecting her fellow citizens from bombs? All these questions remain unanswered.