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24 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
Polish "Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind", 5 July 2009

This movie is a adaptation of a extraordinary book. Released in 2002 (author was 21 then) it divided polish book market. Some of them noticed the Blue Note, but some thought it was graphomania, botched story about pathetic people. I bet film will cause the same diversity of opinions. I didn't read the entire book, but from fragments I have seen I can say I probably would hate it, because of the language, which is so chaotic and disturbing.

But the film I liked. I liked a lot. Director dared to use new forms, which is not a common thing in polish cinema. Movie is very "bravado", it offers decent fight scenes and special effects. Someone compared the director to Quentin Tarantino. I'm sure this comparison is too big, but if those people can be in the same row, it's because of alterity. They both offer something new - in this case, something you cannot see in Polish cinema nowadays.

Another word for actors. Borys Szyc proved he's not a sissy. Good choice for leading role, he meets the great expectations. He's both hilarious (it has comedic parts, but it's definitely not a comedy movie, as some has labeled it) and disturbingly "not so stupid" in drama parts. Additional praise for Roma Gasiorowska.

I'd recommend Wojna polsko-ruska to anyone who wants to see something new, something different. Who's (even a little bit) tired of conventional movies. I believe people who dislike extreme mediums might find it very hard to follow (resulting in notes on film portals... sadly). But as far as you read single good review ("Both hilarious and engrossing, something very different and interesting") and compare it with negative reviews (most of them are like "It's stupid, i don't understand it. Give me Gladiator again"), you'll know what you're gonna deal with.

Great movie, but for open minded people. Polish "Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind"!

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
An intense and strangely beautiful film..., 8 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Where would Hollywood have been without Fredric March as Robert Browning or Dennis Price as Lord Byron, famous lovers in their day? Even an actor as normally straitlaced as Michael Redgrave once brought some moody charm to a portrayal of W.B. Yeats. Writers' lives are an endless source of inspiration.

But of all poets it was Dylan Thomas, the roistering, free-loving Welshman who enjoyed a pint or two (and drank himself to death in New York at the age of 39), who was closest in spirit to the film industry. During World War II, he produced scripts for British propaganda documentaries. He even wrote the screenplay of a vapid melodrama called The Three Weird Sisters, in which three old maids in a Welsh village plot the murder of their rich half-brother. All that is now forgiven.

In John Maybury's The Edge of Love, Thomas is played by the Welsh actor Matthew Rhys. It's not a full-scale biopic. The film covers four years in the poet's life during World War II, when he lived with two women: his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and a former lover Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley), whom he met again by chance during the war. It seems he loved them both. The relationship of these extraordinary women -- to Thomas and to each other -- is at the heart of Maybury's absorbing film.

How it came to be made is a story almost as remarkable as that of the lovers themselves. Rebekah Gilbertson, the film's producer, is the granddaughter of Vera Phillips and William Killick. William, a war hero (played in the film by Cillian Murphy), married Vera while she was still in love with the poet. Gilbertson was inspired to make the film when she discovered a book about her grandparents, Dylan Thomas: A Farm, Two Mansions and Bungalow, by David Thomas, describing their tangled lives. Sharman Macdonald, who wrote the screenplay, is the mother of Knightley. The part requires Knightley to sing, and her mother included songs especially for her. Surely no film with such felicitous family connections deserves to do other than succeed.

We begin in London during the Blitz. Bombs are falling, sirens are wailing, and Phillips is singing to sheltering crowds in an underground Tube station. In a pub, by chance, she meets Thomas and discovers after all these years that he has a wife and child. Phillips and Caitlin form a friendship untroubled by jealousy or rancour and are soon sharing beds and bathtubs, listening to Thomas read his poems, exchanging intimate secrets and smoking their heads off, as everyone did in wartime. Caitlin turns out to be more experienced in the ways of the world ("My first was Augustus John, he seduced me when I was 15"). But it's the refined and soulful Phillips who stirs Thomas's deepest responses and eventually succumbs to his charms. In the meantime, she has reluctantly married Killick, who has seen her in the Tube station and been instantly captivated by her beauty (if not her singing).

It is an intense and strangely beautiful film, though Thomas himself may be its least impressive character. He is best remembered for Under Milk Wood, his verse radio play about a day in the life of the mythical Welsh village of Llareggub, whose name spelt backwards was not something polite English teachers drew attention to. I once had a vinyl recording of Richard Burton reading the poem (he appeared in a film of Under Milk Wood in 1971), and I've never forgotten the creamy, seductive quality of his voice. The legendary charisma, the magnetism of the man, is something I missed in Rhys's performance. Thomas comes across as a strangely pallid, even secondary, figure compared with the women in his life.

In his previous film, Love Is the Devil, Maybury explored the turbulent life of painter Francis Bacon and his sadomasochistic relationship with his lover and model, George Dyer. The Edge of Love seems to me a richer and more satisfying film. If you ask what insights it offers into the springs of Thomas's creative inspiration, I would have to say Llareggub. But as an insight into his egotism, his smouldering moods and his general indifference to the feelings of others, it is wonderfully sad and revealing.

Thomas had a good war, boozing and writing while other men (including Killick) were being traumatised by the horrors of battle. In one scene near the end, Thomas's behaviour towards his friends seems unforgivably callous. But this is not, after all, Thomas's film. Murphy gives us a magnificent study in doomed passion and the emotional debilitation of war. Miller is charming and pathetic as the wife. And Knightley looks almost too exquisitely delicate to be real (as she did in Pride and Prejudice). But this is probably her finest performance. And in every respect the film is worthy of her.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Award-winning director Nuri Bilge Ceylan offers a powerful and stark portrayal of political venality and personal betrayal, 8 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a kind of cultural globalization takes over world cinema, one should be grateful for directors such as the Hungarian Béla Tarr, the Romanian Cristian Mungiu, the Iranians Abbas Kiarostami and Bahman Ghobadi and the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan who keep alive a personal, regional and stylistically individual form of film-making. Their work is never likely to become widely popular at home or abroad, but they're beacons of hope for the future of a troubled art.

A photographer by profession, Ceylan turned to film-making in the mid-90s and works largely with non-professional actors and small budgets. He belongs in the tradition of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Antonioni, Angelopoulos and other masters that seemed in the 60s and 70s to be on the point of becoming a new or, at least, parallel mainstream but has now been marginalised. His new film, The Three Monkeys, like its two predecessors, won a major award at Cannes, in this case the prize for best director, and it begins with that familiar dramatic device for the creation of tension, guilt and dangerous consequences - the hit-and-run accident.

Here, a man kills a pedestrian at night on a country road. It transpires that he is a politician, Servet, and in order for the event not to affect a forthcoming election he bribes his driver Eyüp, who wasn't with him on this occasion, to take the rap. He'll go on getting paid during his nine-month sentence and at the end will receive a decent pay-off.

The title is a reference to the Sino-Japanese image of the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, suggesting this film is a moral fable about the consequences of evasion, corruption and suppression. Servet thinks he's doing what's best for his party and the country: he's a supporter of Prime Minister Erdogan and the occasion is the 2007 general election that ended in a landslide victory. Eyüp believes he's acting like a good servant, but, more important, he's getting the money that will get a better home for his handsome wife Hacer and provide for the education of his teenage son Ismail.

Nothing good comes of these actions. One way and another, everyone's life is affected, indeed in some measure destroyed, but like much else in the film the judgments are left to the viewer. Are we dealing with national problems of widespread social corruption, with the weaknesses of a set of individuals or the operation of a malignant fate of a kind that stalks us all? From the start, Ceylan draws us into the very narrative fabric. In the opening scene, using silence, long takes, available light and dramatic compositions, he makes us ask questions about what we are seeing. Who is this man? What has he done? How will he react? There are long gaps in time between individual sequences and seemingly important facts are never made plain.

Ismail comes home with a badly cut hand and a bruised face, but he never reveals to his mother, or to us, whether these wounds came from brawling or from political demonstrations. They have the effect, however, of persuading her to visit the politician and seek an advance on the bribe to buy a car for the boy. This in turn leads to an affair, which is only discovered when Ismail returns home early to find his mother making love to Servet. When Eyüp emerges from jail, he's furious about the car and his suspicions over his wife's infidelity seem confirmed by a message on her cell phone. For most of the film, the images are desaturated, but during the scene of reunion, Hacer is wearing a red slip, which both excites her husband and drives him to violence.

In the family's background is the death of another son, some 15 years earlier, and his father and surviving brother are haunted by visions of this loss. In the future lies a repetition of the incident that launches the film, only here the conspiracy is initiated by Eyüp. Though perhaps not quite as good as Climates, Ceylan's last picture, this is a film of formidable power that sticks in the mind.

Two sequences in particular stand out. In one, the politician rejects the obsessed Hacer with great brutality, but the camera is placed nearly 50 yards away across a field. In the other, the film's closing long shot, the husband stands on the balcony of their ramshackle apartment block to the south of Istanbul, his back to the camera, looking out over the Sea of Marmara as an electric storm begins to stir.

Katyn (2007)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Haunting and personal, Wajda's Katyn shows people at the mercies of history, 18 February 2009

The veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda confronts the story of the Polish officers who were murdered near Katyn by the Soviet secret service in the spring of 1940. It is a harrowing indictment of man's inhumanity to fellow beings—but may prove too overwhelming for some sensibilities. Limited potential, but its Oscar nomination last year (2008) undoubtedly will help.

Director Andrzej Wajda has a strong personal connection to his Second World War drama. His own father was among the 14,500 Polish military officers murdered by the Soviet army in 1940.

The cover-up of Katyn, which attempted to pin the blame for the massacre on German soldiers rather than the Soviets, could not be broached in Poland during the half-century that the country spent as a part of the Eastern Bloc which explains why Wajda has waited until now to tackle the subject. He examines also the stories of their relatives many of whom waited for years and in vain for the return of their husbands, fathers, sons or brothers.

Many Poles, particularly the younger generation, did not know the truth and when the film was released, it proved a revelation to many of them. More than three million people in Poland went to see it in cinemas. Wajda's film is largely a personal evocation of how families tried to uncover the truth amidst the competing propaganda of Germany and the Soviet Union, using a single family as a microcosm of the nation. We follow a new generation trying to piece together the truth through newsreels, diaries and individual testimonies.

The narrative, in the form of a docu-drama, is all the more gripping because of the restraint Wajda demonstrates. For example, the massacre itself takes place off-screen during the opening moments yet is nonetheless harrowing. We return to it in more graphic detail at the end.

Wajda, as you would expect from a director with an illustrious career who has lived through the turbulent and changing times of his homeland, proves himself adept at showing individuals at the mercy of history. The film ends with a flashback to the spring of 1940. This time we witness the Polish officers being taken in railway wagons to Smolensk and driven into the forest. It's a sequence that lasts over 20 minutes. Wajda shows how, one by one, each officer was murdered by a shot in the head from behind. And then a bulldozer arrives and covers up the mass grave…It is this imagery more than any other that will continue to haunt the viewer.

Review by Richard Mowe

Tato (1995)
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
If you don't show love that doesn't mean there's no love, 25 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michal (Boguslaw Linda) is a busy man. He works in movie industry, travels and he doesn't have much time for his family. But when the crisis comes, he rises to the occasion and fights for his daughter. Crisis in, at first sight, good family shows how much he loves both his wife and daughter but has to give up on one of them.

Very good tale of dad-daughter love with nice acting. Something for everyone, really good movie which relates to discrimination of fathers in courts when it comes to assign care of a child which is actually pretty common (still) problem in Poland. There's a belief that no matter how women is bad and unprepared for raising a child, she should do so, just because she is a mother. As one of the characters in movie says: "Everywhere in the world mothers raise their kids, but only in Poland they get monuments for that".

19 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
New Classic, 17 July 2008

The Dark Knight is unlike any superhero movie that has come before it, and that includes the stellar Batman Begins. While 2005's origin story was a breakthrough with its Gothic visuals and harsh realistic tone, director Christopher Nolan's next entry in the series shatters what we've known as the walls of the superhero genre. An ensemble political thriller as much as it is a tale of revenge and derring-do, The Dark Knight is a wondrous, terrifying epic.

Heath Ledger's Joker is the embodiment of all terror and rage, an evil force as illogical as a tornado, and fearless in the way only a sociopath can be. He sets his sights on Batman only because he wants the game of crime to be more fun, and wages a war of aimless chaos against Gotham while taunting Batman to reveal his face. The Joker demands that Gotham accept a life without rules, and as Dent, Gordon and Batman become increasingly desperate to stop him, they're each forced to break the rules they've lived by. The Dark Knight is peppered with lots of talk about dark vs. light, good vs. evil, freak vs. human-- familiar comic book stuff, and familiar stuff for Christopher Nolan too, he of Memento and The Prestige. Nolan believes so much in the real-world implications of Batman's story that what seems hokey in other movies feels desperately urgent here. There are lots and lots of speeches, with deeply intoned aphorisms about morality and truth, but they fit into Nolan's larger portrait of a city just barely teetering above chaos. As the Joker says near the end of the film, "Madness is like gravity—all it takes is a single push." Each of the main characters, the Joker included, are standing on a ledge.

They say every era gets the kind of hero it deserves, and The Dark Knight is surely a superhero movie for our times, in which even the best of men can find themselves doing wrong. The hopeful exuberance of Spider-Man, made before 9/11, isn't bad in comparison; it just doesn't fit with where we are now. Nolan has shown a new way to tell a superhero story, and it may turn out to be the only way to tell a story about heroes in this troublingly amoral time. We may want our white knights, but it's the dark knight that we need.

Lejdis (2008)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
If you get through cheesy beginning you'll get really nice movie, 26 June 2008

Well, that's true. I've seen both movies, the "precusor", Testosteron and now, Lejdies. I'm male and i find it quite hard to compare those two movies. Mostly because Testosteron was an adaptation of a play and here we have an independent, fresh screenplay.

The beginning of this movie is just horrible... Four spoiled, slutty bitches partying and cursing. Definitely the kind of movie i truly hate and despise. I really wanted to turn it off after a while, but, with help of my sister, i continued. And i do not regret it. It's worth too finish despite the fact that movie is a little longer than typical "romance/comedy" flick and it's 133m long. Sometimes funny, sometimes a little bit heart warming, but overall, a successful attempt of polish cinematography in following foreign (mostly overseas) mainstream. Very enjoyable for widen audience. No wonder it was such a box-office blockbuster.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Decent adaptation of a wonderful book, 1 June 2008

At first i have to admit that i watched that movie on DVD with polish dubbing so my feelings may be a little bit different if i would watch English non-dub version. I think that Oliver Twist is a decent piece of work, Roman Polanski did another very decent movie. It's quite far away from his best but very decent. I loved photographs by Pawel Edelman, they're very dark, great atmosphere.

I'm not sure if i should consider that as a trump or a fault but movie is more concerned on the plot than book. Book is more about the drama of orphan, Oliver. He's the perfect example of young, poor child, very innocent. Good roles from Barley Clark and other young actors. Ben Kingsley is on the high level too. It's enjoyable but i'm not sure if you should watch that with your kid if (s)he's younger than 12-13 not because it's too brutal but it's sad and they simply wouldn't enjoy it.