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Je li jasno prijatelju? (2000)
Naive plot, forced in every sense
A rather bad attempt at matching Shawshank Redemption. Very naive plot. The main character is hardly a character, as if an extra. The film is lacking a lot to even be watchable for an hour plus, and lacks any greatness. Perhaps the only noteworthy thing is the gathering of a set of really good actors, who regrettably have to embarrass themselves with participating in this weak (at best) project. At one moment some two thirds through, there appears a glimpse in the plot which promised a savings grace, but it ended in an even larger disappointment. Simply silly and naive. The appearance of Rade Serbedzija at the end, with his few sentences spoken without real mental involvement, only add to the clumsiness of the whole construction. Essentially a thumb down.
Okupacija u 26 slika (1978)
A malevolent piece of political propaganda
With this film Lordan Zafranovic tried to suck up to the then-ruling communist ideology in Yugoslavia which went on demonizing their opponents from the WWII era. Yugoslav communists, lead by Tito, committed numerous and most atrocious crimes after assuming power at the end of the war. They executed uncountable prisoners and anti-communists all around the country cold blank, without trial, leaving behind themselves hundreds of mass graves. They slaughtered everyone whom they considered "on the other side", both ideologically and with respect to the side they took in the war. Especially keen they were to eliminate the catholic clergy whom they saw as a chief ideological opponent with strong influence in the Croatian ethnic corpus and hence a problem going forward. Nowdays, the massacres of catholic priests at locations in and around Dubrovnik are all too well documented. Even though kept secret and a taboo in years and decades of the communist rule in Yugolsavia, the uncounted crimes by the communists and Tito's partisans have come up to the surface - hence understandable is their endeavor to portrait and depict their opponents as "ruthless monsters", so as to hide, or at least justify, their own crimes. The decades of propaganda worked well both in Yugoslavia and abroad, as the only allowed version of the "truth" was the official one. Lordan Zafranovic figured out that the way to get to prominence was to suck up to the "higher structures" by jumping onto the bandwagon of exaggerated propaganda on how "bad" the communist opponents were. Though a Croat himself, he spared no effort to depict the Croatian WWII era nationalists and the catholic clergy as the worst of villains and bloodthirsty criminals. This film is a collection of pathetic and weakly motivated plots and scenes replete with venomous hate, yet exceedingly naive and illogical. A true piece of historically inaccurate trash, which was in its time very intensively used to brainwash new generations in Yugoslavia. All the school children were literally forced to attend projections of this film, in many ways extremely vulgar, which was being presented almost as a documentary (!), as if each and every detail in it was just mere truth and nothing else. The young Yugoslavs needed to be brought up into believing that those whom the communists exterminated, in ways quite equally as brutal as those depicted in this film, were deserving of their fate. Which was, by the way, understandable. Given the burden of their own crime, effort needed to be made to keep the fact from surfacing and being talked about, or if it ever did, at least the victim needed to be represented as deserving of its brutal fate. Lordan Zafranovic offered himself to that chore. Pity the communists ultimately lost power and he had to emigrate to live an anonymous life in Prague. After the fall of communism in Yugoslavia, when the earlier taboo topics could be researched and discussed (at least to a degree), Zafranovic's work attained a different valuation and he practically became a persona non grata in his own country. His work on this communist propaganda film is utterly shameful.
Though good actors in general, Nebojsa and Emir turned to be poor choices to play two brothers from an old Herzegovinian village. For a foreign audience, that might be no problem, as the actors' talk would be dubbed or translated anyway. But for anyone local, it borders with ridiculous to listen to two most implausible pronunciations that the two fellows are putting in, supposedly being born and having spent their childhoods in that little Croatian village. No time in Zagreb or in Sarajevo can change a kid's accent so badly that when they come home years later, they speak as if from another planet. There was a certain amount of effort on their parts to mimic the local dialect, but vastly insufficient, and it beats the mind that the director did not warn the actors, or didn't at least cut-out and redo the parts when they use the most inappropriate words and accents in their speech. Given that the whole movie is based on a rather simple point (the old father never loved his wife, and behaved accordingly), and that the artsie-fartsie aspect was to provide the completion, the failure to make the language element (much) more realistic is a real drawback here. It feels as if they just filmed whatever came out of actors' mouths first, without any retrying or correcting.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
The film is too weak and doesn't deliver for what its purported purpose is. It stops at just noticing that somethin''s wrong and asks the poo' folks to turn one lightbulb off each... It totally fails to even attempt to go into the reasons why the situation is the way it is, and why there is resistance to what appears to be both evident and truly dangerous. Al Gore uses this movie more to display the Apple logo wherever and whenever possible (he's on Apple's board!), to lament about his friggin farm which once produced tobacco, drags his unbelievably long and monotonous monologues, and does more service to the Chaneys of the world by failing to go to the root of the problem, than to the idiot audience the movie supposedly is geared for and who are supposed, for the first time I guess, to learn about pollution and global warming. For those who started suspecting that the environmentalist movement itself has been hijacked by the elites and used with a spin, this movie is yet another hint. Ain't it too suspicious that Gore fails to raise some real questions? How come he CAN have this movie shown all across the country theaters with all 4 or 5 folks in the audience as was the case when I saw it? Much better documentaries, with much more to say, can't. How come? Who's AG really working for here, eh?
Dva igraca s klupe (2005)
A totally cool film. Very entertaining
This is a rather light, but very entertaining and funny movie. The humor is very healthy for the most part, and surprisingly enough in the context of the Croatian comedy, quite successful. As a viewer, you would need a little of suspension of belief, as the plot ain't got much of a chance to pass in reality, but whaddaheck - you'll enjoy watching it a lot. Acting - superb, almost perfect on Navojec's part. That fellow can imitate local dialects. Tarik is good too, though his role was not too demanding.
A thumb up!
(This is yet another proof how for a good film one only needs a good script, a couple of talented actors, and an old house. No special effects. I.e. to use a piece of zen wisdom: these have to come from within... :))
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Love, huge love and forgiveness
The strongest feeling that emanates from this film is that of tremendous love Jesus had for us, weak and sinful people, what we all are today as those then who crucified him were. We all did crucify him as we all do each day when we don't reach out to each other. Each day when we do not ask questions and do not feel other people's misery. The miseries of the modern time, more than ever, emanate from our ignorance and inability to feel other's pain. We are selfish and greedy, and a film like this, in all of its heaviness, reminds us how we should not be. (When it comes to greed and selfishness, hmmm, what comes to mind nowdays? Be honest!).
We should not be like the high priests (who felt threatened by Jesus and forced Pilate to murder him brutally) in *any* way which we found objectionable. We should not be like Pilate who let such an injustice happen because of his own fear of scorn from Rome if there be unrests. We should not be as ignorant as the crowd (as if anyone cared what the crowd thought! Whenever did one care?!)
A lot in this movie was shown that we should not be like. That is a very tough imperative to fulfill. Nowdays, unfortunately, not much is different than in those old times. Many things are worse. And that's why Jesus's message is more needed then ever.
I am sure that this film will incite goodness in people. Or whatever little of it still exists.
A must-see-must-think-about film!
Harrison's Flowers (2000)
extremely unrealistic, naive, and offensive
The plot is terribly unrealistic (read earlier comments, they are understatements) and designed for naive idiots, for whom the director is taking his audience. None, absolutely none of what happens to the main characters was possible. Their fancy, clean yuppie love, was put in the context of endless innocent deaths without much respect. Might the blind man in the wheelchair have two kids too? No help for him. Yeah, you'll say, he's not her loving husband. Stupid film. Full of historical and factual war goofs.
Nase malo misto (1970)
This is, most likely, the best piece that Croatian TV has ever produced. The series still has the cult rating among the audiences of all generations and has hardly ever been approached in quality by any of the subsequent attempts in Croatian cinematography or TV production.
What makes it so excellent? Its wit, its humor, its realism, its charm, which is overwhelming, its superb (!) acting, so absent from those modern, stretched, fake, ardouous attempts to force the scenes and messages.
In those old days, I guess, the director was treating the audience as intelligent and able to think and discern for tmeselves, and so much was left for their own interpretation and interpolation. That gave this series so much extra charm. Nowdays, audience is treated as idiotic, and in need of most banal explicit explanations. They are looked differetnly and one can not detach himself from the suspicion that some quite different motivations are driving today's production.
This is an awfully nostalgic thing to watch. To those who would be able to understand and enjoy the sout Croatian dialect and its original peculiarities, will undoubtedly need a lot of tear-wiping tissues. At the end, you'll cry your shirt off!
Five stars! Most impressive. Fantastic.
All the Pretty Horses (2000)
Not a good film
A thumb down. The film is based upon quite a promising novel, and the very plot does not miss a base for producing something that could appeal much, much more to a film viewer. Unfortunately, it seems as if it was done in a rush, without much attention to plausibility of either specific scenes or the plot flow altogether. It is so weakly motivated. The acting is bad, including Mat Damon's. His cowboy pal seems to have just jumped downstairs for lunch from one of those Manhattan Wall Street offices. Always so well shaved, never tired (even after taming 16 horses in two days), or simply putting in some bad acting in the role assigned. The love scenes are weak and unmotivated. The bright parts are the unmistakable beauty of the Mexican land and people's faces (which even bad directing couldn't spoil) and the charming role played by the young Lucas Black. Summe summarum: not worth $9.50. Actually, had I paid $2.00 I would feel as barely breaking even.