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Wilde Engel (2002)
Recommended crime action with sexy young women
I do not like goof-ball "comedy" and my 1980s taste evolute with time to more realistic, though fictional, women asserting their equality in law and social status with men, and daily violence that comes from organized crime and security institutions - like the Police and the Army - infiltrated by unlawful people. That's the 21st century in a nutshell. That's why I was able to sit back for this film - actually shown in my country as a 2-part pilot episode for the _"Wild Engel (2003) (TV)"_ series, and enjoy it fully. Yesterday I saw the five episodes I have on tape, and was unable to stop, and fast-forwarded very scenes scenes.
This film opens with an helicopter transported team of heavily armed soldiers to attack a huge military installation that is already surrounded by German police. Then, the building is set ablaze, there are a number of explosions, and one such explosions sends out of the building a missile that explodes behind the police cars, and another explosion sends off a sort of platform from which three scarred young women fall off into the police's hands, so to speak, practically uninjured. Taken to a police station, they keep their mouths shut as they go through the arrest procedures. Then, the leader of the helicopter assault team arrives, and takes the women out of the Police's custody, by just showing his card of BKA (the German Federal Criminal Police).
Then, in three flash-backs, we're presented to the three women who had not known each other 24 hours before... Christina Rabe (played by 28-y-o, black hair Birgit Stauber) is an expert car mechanic and driver, out of business, who has to fight boxing matches in a carnival tent against men to earn some money. (The translator in my country explained that Rabe means Raven in German, but in terms of color that is wrong, for Chris has black hair... He missed the means of the verb Rabe that means of a ferocious animal, To hunt for prey. This is very accurate to describe Chris character, as proved in later episodes.) We are shown two hard matches against heavier men, the last finished quicker because Chris received a message that her brother went to the bank, and it being a Sunday, Chris decided she should be there with him as soon as possible.
Franziska Borgardt (played by 31-y-o Susann Uplegger, brown hair) is the owner of a small bank that has her name on the wall, and of a luxurious country home with a butler and a servant for each of her many whims. We are introduced to her impeccable dress code, and her aim at clay pigeon shooting. She calls a halt to her diversion, has she intends to do some stealthy auditing of accounts, and Sunday is the only day the bank has no one there, except security TV cameras. She tells her butler that a person can not stop working if one wants "to be on top" of things.
Lena Heitmann (played by blonde Eva Habermann, 25) is introduced leaving Köln's police station in her first day of service. She has been appointed as the driver for an older male cop, who distinctly does not enjoy her sense of humor, nor his change of partner. Early in their patrol, they receive a radio call to go to an automatic alarm warning at the Borgardt Bank, and Lena drives madly through the traffic, making theirs to be the first cops on the scene. With the door closed, and no action inside, the male cop plays it cool, mentioning how many false alarms they have; he is seconded by another cop who arrives alone in his car, and the two men talk together, while Lena prefers to run to another street (the bank occupies a block) where she remembers having seen a sideways entrance.
That's when policewoman Lena meets VIP lady Franziska being kidnapped by the jobless duo of Chris and her brother. The three characters converge into the scene in a realistic manner, and the actresses fully endorse the three types of women that will (through the TV series) interplay as rivals and friends to solve crime mysteries. A sense of "déja vu" will be shattered by an intelligent written screenplay and dialogue, well handed stunt action scenes of all sorts (car chases, car crashes, aerial actions, fights on a small boat, gun fights...). Other reviewers emphasized the poor acting in the series; I'll underline that these are real stunt-women graduating into acting quite well, and that these sort of stunts was not, never ever, produced in the forerunner of Angels-based series, _"Charlie's Angels" (1980) (TV)_.
The intricate operation of the exchange of German Marks for the Euro (that was going to be introduced then) included the massive destruction of the ancient bank notes by the Army. The notes were going to be under severe controls going in to the destruction points, but only their quantity was going to be measured going into the furnace. That would leave open the opportunity for a rogue group of soldiers and policemen to substitute forged marks by the real ones in the warehouse, and appropriate the real German Marks that they would be able to exchange in banks at their leisure...
They did not do it, because BKA unit leader Martin Grossmann (played by Filip Peeters) was attentive, and decided to infiltrate a former criminal law student of his (without Chris knowledge), among the rogue cops. By the end of the adventure, Mr. Grossman decides to hire all three young women as his undercover group: The Specialists.
Kuang feng mi ming (1993)
Excellent kung-fu fighting
I agree with those who disagree about this film's quality, for the first half low development of it's story, and even for the unbalanced mix of comic relief situations and the drama into which the story eventually comes to. One has to be patient with that trend in the early 1990's of the Cantonese film industry. This film contains an aging star (Wah Yuen), a martial arts teacher in real life, and Cynthia Khan at her best in a deadly kung-fu fight on a narrow bridge over a waterfall. Athena Chu is alright, as the cute CID "angel" at odds with the Department's "madam" (woman director) as both are attracted to the awkward inspector Chiu Shui. The action takes place in the future, September 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and pretends to show the effects of the Chinese government abandoning nuclear weapons for the development of select humans into super agents. When a project goes wrong, they try to correct the side effects. The script is not easy to follow, but the action segments in the second part, is. You won't forget the cameo role of Woon Ling Hau as the Old Lady caught in the midst of a CID assault on the rogue super cops' shelter. A classic.
Killer Biker Chicks (2009)
Biker girls were best in 1968
B&W scene before the title: 8 biker chicks beat up and crucify a man in the Middle of the Desert, in order to teach him that to f*** one of them is to f*** them all. Retribution is therefore multiplied, with various ways to ensure he dies a horrible death. We're in to a well photographed rape and revenge drama, involving some leather clad, leggy, buxom biker girls. Good! Color first scene: 2 patrol cops enter a club and sit at a table, attended by the old owner, Ted Roy (Ted V. Mikels in a cameo). They seem the best of friends, though Ted calls them "rogue cops". Ted orders drinks to their table from an unseen bartender, Donna (neither seen, nor credited) and a blonde pole dancer on platform shoes and fishnet thigh highs, named Popcorn (Emma Rhodes). When she finishes, sprawling her legs wide in front of the cops, one of them complains that she has spilled his drink. Ted Pulls a big revolver, shoots her on the spot, and says "Problem solved!" We're not in drama territory after all. This is farcical musical comedy unfortunately not well photographed, of the jerky camera, unfocused type, and with one of the worse sound re-cording and sound mix, that will be a nuisance to anyone who cares to follow the dialog, or the many lyrics of the 100 minute long movie. A DVD has been announced as "uncut", with a running time of 93 minutes.
I've watched the 100 minute version on the Internet, and I'm not happy, because it's a lot of time of one's life. The 8 killer biker girls are reduced by half by scene no. 2, and that's not because of turf war against another gang they simply vanished. There's a Mother (Rose Garlano, only creditable performance among the actresses), her Sister and two daughters, that for a while could be a modern version of a serial killer family. There are an unusual number of characters driving through that Nevada desert road, all heading without a specific appointment to the combo petrol station and bar (with rooms upstairs) managed by Mother, and her family. Others appear out of nowhere apparently because of poor editing. Background to the Mother's character is given via sepia colored flashbacks that look like separate film shorts which someone decided to meld into a feature.
Mr. Hawkmeyer (Rusty Meyers, the actor that manages to defend his character in one of three scenes), from the Azerbaijan, is driving with a young brunette in his red sedan. The same patrol cops stop them, and a funny dialog ensues, basically because of the discrepancy between Hawkmeyer's behavior and accent, and the puzzled stare of the cop. The "Azerbaijani" says they are Iranian, not Irakis, "You are at war with Irak, not Iran," is a line that almost has him arrested for being a spy The other cop is having trouble of his own with the buxom girl he has to frisk (!), but their dialog is spoiled by lines delivered without art, or passion.
By the 24 minute mark, Mother knocks out a pair of girls in a white convertible, who stopped for petrol and I could neither perceive in their attitude enough provocation for such a response, nor any logic in their subsequent disappearance. More seemingly random killings take place: a man and a woman drowned in their swimming pool; and on, and on.
Mother's Mother happens to drop by, and that calls for a flashback to Compton, California, in 1968. Mr. and Mrs. Chin (with a lousy Chinese accent) are assaulted by a girl with a shot-gun and a young man with a pistol who appear at the same time to rob their shop. Instead they opt to have sex, and that was how Mother was born When it's not rock groups appearing in cars with not enough petrol, it's three convicts performing some sort of loud music. Cops loose their uniforms when they go for a swim, but not much comes out of it; the same when they accept an invitation for lunch in an auto caravan by two transsexuals, Fran and Dan, who just end up by doing a singing and dancing number on the road to Las Vegas.
Before the one hour mark, in another flashback, we are told how Mother fought a couple at their home, castrated the man and stabbed the woman to death, and came away with no problem, because she set the house ablaze, and no traces of her were found. Is it too violent? In concept yes, not on camera. The fight between the two biker women is totally one-sided and, again, we're left without a clear reason for the actions of the dark heroine.
What may have been one good idea (may be two) at the beginning, ends in a tragedy for the viewer. It is a long time I did not feel compelled to share my feelings about a film. Today I came back, and not for the best motive.
PS I certify that 90% of the feminine cast are worth while looking at; but the way their looks are wasted by the cameras simply adds to the director's crime.
Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950)
Recommended for post-graduates on International Relations. SPOILER!
I've mixed views about this Oscar winning cartoon.
On the script side, it's still worth while to watch, and so much more so, 50 years and as many big wars since WW2, as humankind is less human, less kind, and less able to understand the deep self of the people across the Ocean, or the street.
Gerald is a mute boy, only able to pronounce boing-boing. When extraterrestrials from the planet Moo descend on his backyard, and take him in their flying-saucer, as a human specimen for study, they got the impression that all earthlings spoke like that. Being very clever, the extraterrestrials develop a language based on boing-boing intonations, and are still sending messages to Earth with the only sentence, "boing-boing".
On the drawing, colors, and repetitiveness, and also stridency, of the "language" signs, I'm afraid I'm not with the majority here. Even when I saw this title in 1965, I found it too simplistic, and still do. I grant you that I was not the child this cartoon aims at, and today's manga and similar comics are 300% worse than this, but I would not accord this title an Oscar...
(First posted September 19, 2003; re-posted after clarifying with IMDb that it belongs here, not with the 1956 longer version of this cartoon, similarly titled.)
Margin Call (2011)
And the Oscars don't go to... Margin Call
I'll concede this picture is not better than The Artist (Best Picture Oscar 2012), but it's damn much closer than the competing nominees.
Kevin Spacey in Margin Call (2011) goes through a number of inner changes with flying colours, and less make-up and wardrobe aids than Jean Dujardin (Actor in a leading role Oscar 2012).
Demi Moore in Margin Call shows a bit of leg and a big talent, both saying her lines and when she has no lines to say - which in my book is at least nomination material comparable if not better than, the cloning of an iron lady with due respect to Maryl Streep (Actress in a leading role Oscar 2012).
Paul Bettany is surprisingly good as a top villain, and that should have been awarded instead of keeping rewarding established names like Christopher Plummer (Actor in a supporting role Oscar 2012).
I'll not contend that Mary McDonnell's work in Margin Call, reduced to a marginal role of 3 minutes at best, was better than the much helpful support by Octavia Spencer in The Help (Actress in a supporting role Oscar 2012). And yet you won't forget her role, soon.
New York by night was never so well photographed than by Frank G. DeMarco, but he lost it to a common x-effects based work as Emmanuel Lubezki's The Tree of Life got it (Cinematography Oscar 2012).
John Paino and Robert Covelman created dull office spaces that we endure for over 100 minutes without feeling bored (24 hours in an office building, that's something!), allowing for fluidity of movement of actors and cameras alike. They create realism that is more difficult than the fantastic scenarios of Hugo by Dante Ferretti and Francesca LoSchiavo (Art Direction Oscars 2012 for Production Design and Set Decorator).
Carolin Duncan may have done a discreet job, but each actor and actress is dressed up - or down - according to the moment with precision and respect for him/her status in the organization - deserving as much as Mark Bridges with his glamorous The Artist (Costume Design Oscar 2012).
What did J.C. Chandor lack to deserve an award in comparison to the rather trivial (excuse me!) Michel Hazanavicius? (Directing Oscar 2012).
Pete Beaudreau did a wonderful job, so as you won't notice is presence in Margin Call - what would have been a good reason to award him instead of maybe Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (Film Editing Oscar 2012).
I'd have elected Erin Ayanian and Fabiola Arancibia for their work on Demi Moore, rather the overdone makeup of Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland on their Iron Lady (Makeup Oscar 2012).
Nathan Larson discreet, varied, mood creation, imaginative music certainly beats the expected score by Ludovic Bourse (Original Score Oscar 2012), and probably all other nominees, hands down.
Most of all, J.C. Chandor was robbed of award and nomination for his original screenplay that is what the people should be exposed to, to understand the reality of the last three years with a perspective that goes through 7 centuries, with a dialogue that all actors delivery naturally, because they were very careful written by someone who knew what he was writing about! Several dialogues of this screenplay should be mandatory study in Acting and Finance Schools. So, with due respect to the old hand of Woody Allen (Original Screenplay Oscar 2012) I'll contend that the nominee Chandor should have got the trophy.
1. I do not understand how come Margin Call did not get a single statuette. 2. I am confirmed in my conceited opinion that good movies are rarely rewarded by the Oscar crowd.
PS - This film is rated R, probably because of the repeated use of the F**k word, despite the characters saying the expletive or the verb are subjected to unbearable psychological and economic pressure. I appeal to all minors of 21 or 18 or whatever, to sneak in and watch this movie. You will know what your favourite TV station and your favourite political leader has not told you these last three years.
The Debt (1993)
A funny drama à la Hitchcock - of extreme actuality in 2010
This is an excellent short that shows the writer's attentiveness to the social and political problem represented by the mounting US public death - counted by the marquee-sized debt clock in Times Square, NYC - and how «your family share» is affected, after being itself part of the cause of the problem.
One bleak Friday, a couple arrives home from home and listen to the voice-recorded unattended telephone calls from a number of people: the credit card company, the bank, the husband's office, the husband's lover, the wife's life insurance company... Each is disturbing enough in itself, but heard in a crescendo to the unexpected - and extremely revealing ones - it makes something only comparable to the best of the short, crispy, made-for-TV Alfred Hitchcock episodes.
À la Hitchcock, the story ups to a grim finale, with crisp editing, up to 2-frames-per-cut. The lab's experienced editing assistants didn't believe it could be done - as told November 15, 2010, at the film's show at the Portuguese Cinematech by the Director, Bruno de Almeida. He imposed that daring-do in editing. He won! The 35mm film didn't disintegrate, and the result is terrific! Again, as in the best thrillers, the eye-to-eye, revolver-to-revolver confrontation by the not-so-loving husband and wife, will not end in that grim finale.
As in real life, a book-peddler appears at their door, proposing them to buy (to buy - to buy - the cause of their overburdening debt) just one more book, that will save their lives, and assure them a bright future. Yes, they can! For a moment, their grim faces change. Unfortunately, as for the US, the reasons to believe in a bright future are short-lived - as are the three lives in this short.
With three false finales, and almost no words from the principals whose facial and body expressions are exaggerated as if this was an old Harold Lloyd's comic, we are fully served.
Because the Director's was living in NYC then, and possibly in love with that city where he chose to carve a career away from The System, he chose to film some plans of the 6th Avenue, with the debt clock, and the Twin Towers in the distance amidst the other engulfing sky-scrapers.
Thus, it also makes this short of extreme actuality in 2010. First, since the 9/11 the Twin Towers are no more part of NY's skyline. Second, the debt clock has been moved to another location, and modified since it came to a halt due to failure in keeping with the over US$10 trillion number in 2008, and the new clock is more performing, but less impressive than the first clock was. Third, «your family share» of the (seemingly) unstoppable Debt is still mounting.
Amidst tales of «sex, lies, and mounting debt», at individual, and global scale. So much in 12 minutes. The nine prizes the film got already are OK, but it should be brought to wider audiences, in theaters and television.
Rififí en la ciudad (1963)
For film noir, Nazi, jazz, thriller fans, and Franco's distracted fans alike
I do not know the background of this film, but it has features that later Jess Franco's films had: beautiful girls (young readers will be appalled by their large hairdos, but yes, women were using it like that, and I liked it), plenty of bad guys, coward and courageous cops, rotten politicians, a South American unnamed country sunny and reach in opportunities (for working people and cocaine traffickers). Other reviewers noticed how Franco's next films were a succession of cheap exploitative slashers, nudity, prostitution, gore, terror. Why? My answer is that maybe Franco thought, as time went by, that he needed money, and he was more serious than his audiences, and distributors. If he saw historical evolution right, after 1963 he understood that he made a film with a happy end (no, it's not a spoiler yet) that was out of pace with real life: we know now for certain that gangsters, former Nazis, people involved in drugs trafficking, when «democratic» elections by using power, fear, and all the votes money can buy. In a far, unnamed country in Latin America - nothing to affect English speakers... Franco did manage to film this in Madrid under a dictatorial regime, but his film was so good, too good in fact, that it has had almost no distribution, even with VHS and DVD. Or else, I've been distracted, and many fans of Franco too.
And yet, Franco was placing all in front of our eyes. The first image is a political campaign poster, "Leprince es Justicia" (Leprince is Justice), but we FORGET it when the woman's voice starts speaking low of a gone lover, and the camera pans onto the beach house, and the seashore. The orchestra that starts playing all that black jazz score (by Jess Franco as Daniel J. White - also the wonderful cabaret numbers though the film), and an elegant pair of ankles and feet are doing dance steps on the chalk marks on the stage, 1-2-3-4... and on and on, but we FORGET that it means that her audience (us) do not care she is not what she pretends to be, a dancer, and as credits roll, we finally see her, the buxom blonde in a tight white dress, promising us kisses. A couple of black men are seen dating with brunettes, and one even has time to evade answering her about sort of thing was he dealing with - to be so rich, and to afford having a different girl every night, and promising them pricey cars, but we FORGET about him, as he is a mere underling to the big boss, and soon dispatched from the story. The cabaret owner is also the owner of the cotton industries, and an immigrant of April 1944, arriving without money from Nazi occupied Marseilles, France, but we FORGET that Franco plants this information in three distant occupied dialogs, never as a relevant matter but something that blurts out in the middle of something else. One person will come close to another person who is snoring loud after drinking an alcohol drink, open the person's shirt, extract a small key to a safe, and eventually finding out more than expected (yeah! I managed to write this without a spoiler!), and we FORGET that neither Orson Welles, nor Alfred Hitchock, ever managed such a long, thrilling suspense that had me on the edge of the chair, and yet unable to press fast forward - for I was as much afraid of that said person.
The expression Rififi comes from the underground world of Brussels (I think) and it's almost impossible to translate, so in other languages (as in Spanish) it is either left alone, or a different approach must be used... Riffraff is not an explanation, and it is more than struggle, or fight, because it conveys despair, all-out, annihilation...
The French title "Vous souvenez-vous de Paco?" (do you remember Paco, the most common short name in Spanish language countries...) is very intriguing. With it, Franco tells us that Paco will be easily forgotten by the men in the story, and in the audience, who will NEVER FORGET the French (or is it German?) that fled to South America to start a new life (or is it?). I (with my male brain, already forgot Paco's face), but Franco also told me that Paco will never be forgotten by the women who loved him (for his face, his body, his sex, or himself?) even if he had not loved them. Nina's and Pilar's speeches, on camera, or in a letter read later by a police detective, mark the difference between man and woman in a relationship - and suddenly I find that this is not just an engagé director settling a political matter, it is a genial director putting us face-to-face with the ages old question of love, sex, and relationships. In 1963 - five years before the summer of 1968.
The beautiful cinematography in black and white and the cheap decors somewhat manages to give to the film all the bright colors - and shades - of Latin America, but the original story, or its magnificent screen adaptation leads us to the high levels of human and social statements film directors ever made in a movie.
I'm ashamed I only knew Jesus Franco by some musical scores in sexploitation films, and a couple of Doctor Orloffs. I paid US$8.37 for the original version in Spanish, no subtitles, Clásicos Imprescindibles del Cine Español, at a discount sale, that runs exactly 99 min 30 sec., format 1.85:1 (screen 4:3), an excellent, blameless print by Mercury Films & Video, and Filmfax Homevideo. I'm not selling it for US$83.70 even if you ask politely. Unless you've just won a democratic election in your State - like in this film's there is a decider second vote after the first results are counted - and you, and your friends, make me an offer THAT I CAN'T POSSIBLY REFUSE. (pun intended)
Geisha vs ninja (2008)
Geisha vs Ninjas - a misunderstood chanbara out of Japan
The film has been decried by some viewers because the feats of strength attributed to a mere girl are impossible, particularly after she has been injured. That would put down thousands of action films in which the main character is a man, too.
The film is declared a fake, because the script has the heroine fighting a number of opponents in succession - count them: 2 Ronin, 4 Ninjas, 1 Monk, 1 Assassin, 1 Priest, 4 Demons, 1 Samurai, 1 Young Ronin = 15. The same happens in most action films, and if it does not, then it's because they do not have enough money to pay as many expendable characters; in the best action movies the hero or heroine is supposed to kill hundreds or even thousands of opponents, and survive with less physical damage than our Geisha here, and they are usually acclaimed just for that.
The ninja style bout is a bore, with fake action like jumping to the sky, sliding ten meters over an uneven ground, and so on. True, but that would be inescapable due to the fact the film is an Eastern, and with Ninja in the title. According to the film genre, such scenes are mandatory, though lacking credibility in a rational analysis. The same happens with American or European Westerns in which the colts fire dozens of deadly bullets without being re-charged... and most get good reviews.
The Geisha fights a Monk who is larger and stronger, and she defeated him by her strength, which is another fake. This blame is not true. The Geisha shows stamina equal to the taller, stronger enemy, and defeats him with a clever and unexpected wrestling hold, a figure-four headlock applied with her thighs the most powerful limbs in an athletic woman wrestler and takes his breath, and almost breaks his neck with it. Then, as he his still unable to defend himself, she finishes him with a karate punch to the Adam's apple. (I find this quite believable. Kids of all ages: please do not try this blow at home!)
The film is a chanbara, and one should appreciate the music of the tinkling blades together, and the contrast they establish with the opening soft music in a temple where the grown-up Geisha is dancing - a choreography that she had perfecting as a child, even against the will of her beloved father...
Are Western reviewers so much into computers that they became incapable of understanding a story told as a fairytale about a girl's quest for her father's killer, and her family's sword?
I'm not so much in love with this film to the point of rating it 10, but I understand the people who did that. Very nice cinematography and eventually a better film than what we're seeing editing down to 78m32s and without a good translation. I saw it in a language I do not speak, and even so I liked it, and got the main points of the story. That speaks high of Go Ohara, the director and screenplay writer.
Risk of disappointment - be prepared!
«I sat in a theatre listening to the music coming out of the big speakers: the latest from Brazil. The film I was coming to see was "FADOS" by Spanish auteur Carlos Saura. I thought fado was from Portugal - I was confused,» said another IMDb user.
I can only sympathize. Film Author (and that's more than Director to you) Carlos Saura decided, because no one had done so for 30 years, to document Fado, the Portuguese national song of passion, sorrow, and remembrance that come so well in almost impossible to translate word, saudade, that seems to be the deepest in us, the Portuguese.
But this is his artistic vision of it, ands he warns in the opening credits of the film that he is not going to present the «classic» fado, but he will attempt to describe it's 150 years old roots that go deep in the miscegenation of native European Portuguese and the local cultures of the peoples that were once our colonies, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Angola and also the «modern» and stylized ways Fado has taken through the voices who people who loved it, but innovated deeply in the way to sing it. Amalia Rodrigues was the first, changing the popular words of fado songs for poems written by great poets, those of centuries ago (like Camoens) and some contemporaneous. The stylized Fado of Coimbra was quickly accepted, though usually restricted to the cultured Portuguese, as it emerged from the groups of college students from that town. Carlos do Carmo, who now passes for a «classic», with his respectable 70-y-o look, was indeed a revolutionary who dared (protected by his mother, herself one of the best Fado singers ever, Lucilia do Carmo) to sing Fado as a song, upsetting the traditional rhythm and pose of Fado singers. Some audiences went riotous at first and then acceptance came. There were others, and now the new born queen (a princess yet), Mariza, sings Fado in a totally different way again, HER way, and it is not so much her African origin that does it, I think, but her voice, and her soul. I do not think she is a beautiful girl, though many will throw bricks at me for saying so, but I am deeply touched by her passionate voice, and her attitude; there is no doubt that she has the same Fado culture, and love, as Amalia, and Lucilia, because when she sings she transfigures herself. You'll notice all this, and more, viewing the film.
«Casa de Fado» is the only sketch in which you'll have a peek of the «real thing» as it happened in Portuguese «tabernas» (taverns, where the poorest of a poor people talked, drank, and tried to survive the sorrows of life and love together by singing them out). Through out the film, for the disappointment of the unprepared viewer who expects to watch and hear the purest of classic Fado, Carlos Saura uses multimedia to mix, on stage and on screen, several art forms with modern ballet and African folk dances on top, all connected to the Portuguese song. I do not like rap dance, but you must know that many African and Portuguese youths do, and there are many who wanted to show their respect for the African roots of Fado.
I was also shocked at first, when I viewed the film last night. But then I thought it over, and this morning I decided to leave here this warning. Please watch the film once, and let yourself go with the tunes, and the mood of poetic passion that Saura builds so well. Enjoy the great guitar players, and try to understand why artists so much apart came together in this film project That's another beauty of the thing, Fado and Portuguese: both are able to integrate different peoples, and different cultures, all unique, and all the same! A footnote: someone praised «the fight superstar Mariza has with the Spanish singer in MEU FADO MEU - probably the only emotional moment in the film » The choreographed fight in the film is played by two solo Spanish dancers, underlining very well the words of that particular song. I don't think that one was sang by Mariza, but Mariza is much better looking than the frail dancer in that scene.
A plea: I beg with film producers of the world to put this in a DVD with the short documentary by António da Cunha Telles, Fado (1970). I saw it 37 years ago, and the beautiful images and sounds came to me when I was researching our IMDb today. It would be a smashing DVD, contrasting two great film directors, two epochs wide apart, and with the same deep respect and love for an art form.
La piovra 10 (2001)
Defending my vote of 9
Someone wrote before that La Piovra 10 is full of clichés, and I must admit that some situations and complex family relationships tend to repeat each others through the series, even in the two prequel series (8 and 9, that should be seen before the others, actually). But if you seat back and think, what was the real history of Sicily since the Allied invasion in 1945, but the substitution of underground alliances of local mafia, and new power lords? That pattern kept repeating itself, only technology changed - and that is clear contrasted between Series 8 (the Fifties), 9 (the Sixties), 1 to 7 (the Seventees and Eighties), and 10 (the Ninetees). In the earlier episodes, you listened behind closed doors to learn secrets, than you started breaking computer codes, and in the end you have characters talking to each other through second generation mobile phones - though the most terrible secrets amassed through decades are still kept in now old-fashioned floppy disks. The methods of killing changed a little, from the flick-knife or the razor-blade to the untraceable drugs that kill slowly, but efficiently, passing through the (American introduced) machine-guns (the 1960s) and time-bombs (the 1970s).
This 10th and last series had a problem; how to surprise an avid public, and how to put an end to what we know, in real life has not ended, and does not seem to. The surprise was the volcano mouth, able to devour all the secrets of the world, including those of corrupt company chairmen, local authorities, regional and national politicians, policemen and magistrates. That may be a bit far-fetched, but cinematographically it works very well, with brilliant choice of camera angles, and enough close-ups of action to document which is certainly one of the rarest ends of a thriller.
Before that, this series is absolutely full of little nothings, like a glancing view over little ships made of paper cuts, that are absolutely essential to understand the change of mind of Dottore Cariddi, now the top man in a crime ring that became larger and larger, starting with a little smuggling and extortion racket in Sicily, growing through drug trafficking, money laundering, arms deals, company take-overs, and ending in the control of governments by underground organizations that pervade all national and religious institutions... That Dottori Cariddi is the same person called Tano, that we came to know as a silent, mistreated teenager, that wanted «to be someone» and who never overcame the trauma of the violence he saw committed against his mother, first, and his half-witted sister Maria after, is the key to understanding his behavior in this concluding chapters.
If you missed the previous installments of this Series 10, you can not fully appreciate Remo Girone's outstanding performance here; you will lack basis to interpret the multiple signs that the director and the property master provide lavishly to take our minds back to very much meaningful moments of the series.
So, if you liked a little this series 10, you know that you must find the other series in DVD and buy or rent them. Try your best to get an Italian spoken version - there are others, but the importance of the original sounds, and voices, is great. I know, because I have the chance of having seen an original subtitled version.
If the supporting actors in this series were half as good as in the earlier series, this would have been a 10 star for me. Unfortunately, they were not up to the task of equaling Remo Girone and Patricia Millardet. Elena Arvigo composes her character well, passing convincingly from the bride in love to the suspicious intelligent girl, and then to the courageous unbroken victim; a few images of her facial expression in captivity show very good acting. Radamonte's downfall and decay come too fast (because of production needs), and therefore Rolf Hoppe's composition is not so convincing; yet, for a flick of a second, when he sees the hidden gesture of his pupil, the very child he brought up from nothing, putting venom in his glass, his face of silent acceptance of death and loss of friendship is magnificent.
OK. I'll leave you with those hints at that perhaps I should have given it a 9 and a half star. Please see it, and judge me. Then give me the same the courts gave to all the criminals brought to justice by a handful of memorable policemen, starting with Michele Placido as Corrado Catani.