Tuesday, 11 June 2013

My bit overdue review of Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty is another war-related film from the Oscar-celebrated collaboration of Kathryn Bigelow (director) and Mark Boal (writer). Their second film is dedicated to the ten years of secret operation by an elite team whose only mission is to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden.

As in their previous film, The Hurt Locker, Bigelow and Boal present this war topic with great realism and through non-judging position. Like in The Hurt Locker, the film follows the story through the eyes of a lonely main character dedicated to her mission and work - CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain). Not only Maya’s obsession of finding al-Qaeda terrorist leader leads the team of what seems like tired and lost team of intelligence, it also drives the whole film. Considering that Jessica Chastain’s character is a woman without secrets, interesting stories or personal problems, it seems at first as an impossible task to get a real hero out of Maya, but Jessica Chastain does it brilliantly with her pure and sincere performance. The actress proves that she is gifted not only in the comedy roles like in The Help or supporting roles like in Lawless and Coriolanus but also as a lead in a serious drama.

Dramatically a lot of focus and attention concentrates on a character who becomes a center of the film, a real person who is the only reason of the story’s existence - the leader of al-Qaeda. He is an invisible villain. A goal of creating drama through fighting an invisible villain is a difficult task in filmmaking and that is where “Zero Dark Thirty” lacks its visual expression.

Zero Dark Thirty does not feel like a long film (despite its 2 hours 37 min) but its broken pace damages everything: years pass by in a repetition very quickly while the raid itself is shot almost in a real-time, minute-by-minute speed.

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal made an important creative decision not to commit to any viewpoint and decided to follow passionate but quite straightforward character. All these decisions left this film emotionally cold and very “as a matter-of-fact”.  

The manhunt for one of the world's most dangerous man is a tremendously important event in the history of the 21st century and no wonder that it attracted one of the best filmmakers of our time. However in the attempt to show a true event without slipping into a melodrama of a patriotic victory and avoiding factual problems, the filmmakers showed an unemotional story of a lonely individual on the edge of the earth trying to achieve her goal for no apparent personal reasons. As a story it is amazing and by no means important in the history of 21st century, but the decisions made in the script almost diminish its value and as a film it fails to impress.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Sweetheart is up online

It's been a year and couple of months since we shot short film Sweetheart in West London.

Since then Sweetheart, written by talented Lisa Gifford and produced by super-competent Elisar Cabrera, enjoyed a great festival run with a Premier screening in London at Raindance film festival, screenings at Bragacine Fim Festival in Portugal and two festival in the US: West Chester Film Festival and Fort Lauderdale.

It feels like it's been such a long time ago since we wrapped filming on the day, and to be honest the shoot went so smooth that I was waiting for something to go wrong. Luckily it didn't, thanks to our amazing crew and everyone who helped out it was a very pleasant experience.

Here is a full film online, if you like it, please do share and click on "like" on youtube page.

I hope this is my first amongst many future joint projects with the lovely team behind Sweetheart.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Summer, friends

Summer rainy days.
I am sitting in between.
In the middle of life,
Staring outside
Water falling down.
In the middle of life,
Right here, right now.

I don't want anything.
It's not about basic needs and secret desires or love in general.
Love is about freedom, and I let everyone go.
Some stayed for some time, some didn't.

Some are still here, at the back of my mind and at the reach of a phone button, ready to help, to talk, to laugh or just there.
In them I trust. In their existence.
They do not need to prove themselves every time to me.

I'll even forgive them if they are late.
Although they can't be late.
Because they are never truly gone.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Film of The Day - 12.12.12

I decided to make a post every day on a film that reminds me of the events happening today or something related to my experience of the day. This is to do with one of my resolutions which I am starting today rather than on Monday or in New Year - a resolution to write a blogpost every day.

Today the Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his usual annual speech to the nation. It was broadcast live from the hall of Sover Federacii where the rest of the Parlament was listening to his speech.

I am not going to go on how many of things he said were true and how many were lies, and how his viewpoints are different from his actions. Actually, the last one is relevant.

Being a politician at the top, one learns how to reason and justify their actions even when they feel those actions are wrong. We don't know what actually Putin thinks and maybe he doesn't even justify the reasons for his idea of treating the Constitution the way he wants and allow such a serious miscalculation in election votes to make him President for two more times.

I want to remember of another politician today and the way he faced truth after he was retired. Those historic events were captured in the film Frost/Nixon (2008).

This film gives us a great way to understand the way people at the top make decisions. The drama of that interview being broadcast live to the whole nation, brings the sense of "immediate" sharing.

This film makes me think of what would happen if right now, while Putin speaks live, something happens and he says something completely truthful and new. But this is not an interview and there is no one to challenge him.

Here is trailer to Frost/Nixon, if you haven't seen it yet, watch it. Maybe next time you see a live broadcast - maybe it's another historic event taking place.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Whole Era of Soviet Sci Fi is Over...

...as Boris Strugatsky died today.

Part of Strugatsky brothers tandem, he was one of the most influential sci-fi writers not only in the USSR but in the whole world. Born to the society fascinated with space he and his brother also touched on the Soviet and universal problems through philosophical prism.

His works can be known to you through the film of Andrei Tarkovky's Stalker.

But their sci-fi books are so fantastic that they deserve more and more films to be made.

Rest in Peace, Boris.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Sweetheart had Raindance Worldwide Premier!

Last Sunday our film Sweetheart that I directed, had its premier at Raindance Film Festival. Sweetheart was screened alongside other short films in the selection of Program 14 named "Thrillers".

The atmosphere at the festival was amazing, previously several days before the screening all the tickets were sold out so the organisers moved this selection to a bigger screening in Apollo Cinema. But couple of hours before the program started all tickets were sold out again. It was packe! People were queuing up to find seats. Every film was welcomed with a round of applauses.

Before the program started filmmakers could introduce the film and say couple of words to the audience:

Huge thanks to all the crew and cast who worked so hard on this film!

We shot film at the end of March 2012 and through making this film I met so many great people!

Here is a picture of the team at the Raindance:

You can read more about the film, its team, news and watch the trailer on Sweetheart's Website.
Also follow Sweetheart on twitter and facebook.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Lawless - my very informal view

Lawless is a new gangster-drama by Joan Hillcoat, director most known for The Road and The Proposition and his collaboration with Nick Cave.

Nick Cave wrote a script for this one as well - this time adapting Matt Bondurant's novel.

I haven't read the novel and these kind of films are usually not my cup of tea unless they are more about the drama rather than the time.

Reasons are, well, half of the time it is hard to understand what they are saying. And it's not just me being foreign and stuff. A lot of British people I talked to could not understand completely, of course they did, but not entirely.

Another reason - not being a person who grew up with the notion of this Prohibition era I can hardly sympathise it. When people were starving in the other countries it is hard to think about poor people not having alcohol and it just feels that like everyone was a baddy those times. The trick is to show that they are baddies with a human face or with very strong dramatic reasons for being baddies. Boardwalk Empire really succeeds with that. And Broadwalk Empre creates characters not out of the blew, of course it has hours and hours to show exposition. A feature-length film does not have this luxury and needs to dig into the story.

But still, a lot of the characters in the Lawless I am left not connecting too. Take the "villain" Guy Pearce. Why on earth is he so weird and so violent? What is it in for him? Why is he so persistent. The greatest way was to show that something bad happened to him or that he actually has his truth. But just being the force of evil is not enough. Besides he is not evil if you think of it - they are breaking the law, and he is enforcing it. In terms of a soldier mind, or a perfect cop or samurai - serving the law or master is matters of pride and dignity. In this case Guy Pearce's character's master is the government.

I am sure there are all these reasons in the book. But I found it difficult following it in the film and sympathising characters.

Acting-wise, everyone was amazing. The way the move, talk, creating the reality in the voice, smiles. From little performances of the Cricket guy to stunning Jessica Chastain and super-sincere performance by Shea LaBeouf. I am not going to talk about Tom Hardy. He is one of the best actors in his generation and I hope he is going to take up more roles like this, central and creating reality from scratch.

Technically-wise, it was beautifully shot and edited, great blocking and compositions. I had some problems with cutting in terms of continuity of movements. It was a stylistic choice but at some points it was taking me out of story. But who cares.

My favourite film of John Hillcoat is the The Raod and this hasn't changed after Lawless came out.

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