The Shell is better than the Ghost

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The cinema is an incredible way of art, because it always relies on good storytelling first. And after that on visuals, sound, design, performance, etc. It is surely a mix of them all, but the essence is and will always be to relay an important set of messages through an impressive story. And this is the reason why improvisation will always be a milestone in creating good movies. Because repetitiveness is always going to go into oblivion.

For example “Ghost in the shell” – the anime movie from 1995 will always be this cornerstone in the lives of many young before and now not so young people. It is an essential part of my life too. And I can’t just pass on seeing what Rupert Sanders has done with these incredible set of characters, with this great set of ideas and story.

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You see, people get inspired by stories which tell them something new to them, which teach them something they don’t know about themselves and about the surrounding world. And at the same time these valuable fiction pieces show that we’ve had this valuable information in ourselves all the time. We just had to dig deep and find it. To acknowledge it. To accept its existence and then to use it in our lives. To be better people, to live a happier and more fulfilling life. This is the kind of art piece the original “Ghost in the shell” is. At least to me. So it’s important to stress out what a big task this director took.

Now, I want to say that I truly believe that cinema is an eternal form of creation because it refreshes itself by inspiring the film community within. This anime is a beautiful example for this. I cannot give a better example for film inspired by GitS than “The Matrix”. There we see a seamless transition of groundbreaking ideas from one form (mind) to another. This is the living tissue of cinema itself. Ideas about information flow, purpose of life in cybernetic society, gender identity and the future of the human soul flourish from anime to movie life the first breath of a new born baby! And this is exactly what I love.

So seeing the new Scarlett Johansson’s new movie was a test. An awaited test, but still a test. And it performed more or less as expected. The story was dummed down A LOT. I don’t even want to speak about it. It was interesting to see the script writers discussing a fresh look into Motoko Kusanagi’s origins, but this idea seemed not thought in details enough. The performances of the actors weren’t bad. But the characters are part of the flawed story. So yeah – it wasn’t a very good movie.

But it was a decent one, because…they did hire some of the best design, music and graphic artists available on the market. And the atmosphere, sound, costumes, CG were GREAT! It sure looks expensive, but it is for a reason. I really enjoyed what WETA did in this movie. These people put up so much effort into interpreting and creating from the original content, that I want to recommend watching the movie if not for something else, than just for their work. It is worthy of appraisal. And let’s not forget Hong Kong…the main landscape which inspired the original is seen in this movie as well. A future city it still is!

So overall I would like to ask you all – do you prefer to have a shiny shell or a thoughtful ghost? I personally prefer to have both!

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As real as it gets in Manchester

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I haven’t really watched such a realistic film in a veeery long time…

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Although, this movie will go in my records as not the best of the best films of 2016, it will surely keep its value over the years. Not only because of the two pivotal scenes (at least for me) in it – with Affleck in the Police station and with Affleck and Williams in the conversation from the screen which I post. But because of the overall feeling which this film piece relates to the viewer. This is reality, this is as close and as rough as it is.

I don’t necessary enjoyed every act of the performance of Casey Affleck, but he surely strikes us as a very believable “dead” living person. The story vehicle takes its time to reveal the cause of his miserable existence and we slowly dive into his “ashes”. I really liked all the supporting cast as well. Starting from his nephew, played by Lucas Hedges, going through Kyle Chandler (is the coincidence in the family names purposeful?) and all the other minor participants (Matthew Broderick and even the director – Kenneth Lonergan).

The background of the real Manchester town is reassuring that this whole story is happening where it should be. I cannot help but remember the great song by Billy Joel – “The Downeaster Alexa”:

“So I could own my Downeaster “Alexa”
And I go where the ocean is deep
There are giants out there in the canyons
And a good captain can’t fall asleep”

And yes – the musical coverage is great. We get the classical pieces at the right time, we feel the emotion overwhelming us at the right moments.

This movie is a slow ride, at times a bit dragging in the details. But we all forget where we park our cars and we have all been through the moments of choosing the right condom 🙂

Anyway, I wanted to emphasize on the two really meaningful moments for me which really grabbed me by the throat and made me remember this film – Lee Chandler’s breakdown at the police station and Randi’s remorse during their conversation towards the end of the film. I see them as emotional knots, culmination, nervous exit from a stalemate situation. And since we all reach such moments in our lives, when it’s all coming over the top, I feel that these two actors did their best. And they did it both subtly and extremely. The viewer correlates and empathizes in key moments with our main character. Kenneth Lonergan directs really well here and we see these actors strengths profoundly clear. What a wonderful lesson in cinema!

Of course I have to admit that Patrick’s character is really a separate center in this movie. You cannot help but feel sympathy for him throughout the whole film. His actions and words are thoughtfully adult amidst his uncle’s reserved and unresolved behavior. This is a film about losing and finding what is most precious in life. It is a movie about family, about time and about real life. It does not want to help you forget where you live and what you do in your every day routine. It stimulates you to do it better and not to lose your values and faith in good. It is a quiet story of ethereal meaning. The meaning of a lost and found reason to live.

Drive it along Sing street

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I thought that 2016 was dominated musically by “La La Land”, but then I saw “Sing street”…

Well, what can I say – music is everything sometimes. And just sometimes – movie making through music is what it takes to make everyone feel so much better.

Topics like family, growing up, friendship and love fill this movie with the necessary energy to carry you from beginning to end with joy and passion. I am truly inspired how the main characters start from the desire to be noticed and reach some of the highest peaks of originality in art. The 80’s background music, set and costumes are far too attractive to be missed. And for me – these are all hallmarks of great directorship and cinematography.

The desire to associate with, to give, to win, translates to the viewer the impression of youth’s vigor and love towards pushing down walls and changing habits. The young cast of this film reminds us to never let the important things run out of our lives, no matter how hard the situation is. And always to share every spark of creativity. The unique cultural-historical perspective of this movie shows again how music connects past and future, now and then.

Across cultures and distances we are interconnected by art, and in particular by good music. We can experience the passion to express ourselves all the way along our path of growing up and chasing our dreams. And to see once again how we must never lose grasp of our goals, no matter how hard it gets along the way.

This movie is an excellent example of how the family can influence any young kid in both a good and a bad way. Also – the importance of a good advice against the malice of poverty and ignorance is really obvious. “Sing Street”is the newest story of how love can actually save and dignify. But more than everything we see – how music can be a solution to all. And without any guaranteed success at the end, we enjoy this film as a really splendid creation of nostalgia, music and love.

I truly recommend this small treasure to you and your close ones. We can never have too much music and love in our lives!

Always beside you, never silent

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It took me some time to comment on my most anticipated film of the year – “Silence”, by Martin Scorsese, but it was worth it…

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The central notion of spirituality and human nature is the very essence of faith in this masterpiece by Mr. Scorsese.

We see two Jesuit priests (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) going on a journey in peril. The aim – to find their mentor – Father Ferreira, who has renounced his faith after being tortured in Japan.

St. Paul’s college in Macau is indeed a symbolical building to marvel at. It emphasizes on the transience of an era of devout, dogmatic Christianity. But still, its facade exhibits the magnificence of the human spirit. And how faith can travel and conquer, but also stay and change, transform any place in the world.

There is a really nice poem called “Footprints in the sand”. It speaks volumes of the Christian faith, and to that matter – volumes of any faith, which is righteous. It goes like this:

“One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

This is very much what to my account this movie is about. The hidden treasures of faith lie within our own understanding of life and its meaning. In “Silence” not all questions of father Rodrigues are answered, as nor do all of our delusions meet their end throughout our lives. But we all witness the pain and torture which the great ensemble of characters endure. Here, I must really praise the directorial work and all the actors’ incredible performances. We must emphasize that all characters – from the main one to the smallest and most episodic ones – are represented truly and faithfully.

We see Japan and the Japanese way of life as it is. Nothing is spared, nothing is hidden. Nature itself is a major character in this movie. It is no coincidence that “Silence” was nominated only for Cinematography for the annual Academy awards – perhaps this is the most incredible part of the film. I cannot explain enough how the visuals speak volumes of storytelling to the viewer. We are engulfed in the sounds and colors of this magical godly realm called Earth. You must truly experience this both beautiful and disturbing nature of the movie.

The screenplay twists and turns around us and our expectations. We feel our own doubts and remorse, we live the same life deeply within is and at the end of the journey we feel maybe a bit better about out choices in life. Not because the film gives a final solution, or because it pretends to be a parable. This monumental work from Mr. Scorsese about how the human spirituality works is a fine example of storytelling through introduction of a riveting internal dialogue within each and every viewer.

I myself feel the need to share this film with everybody that cares for cinema, spirituality and purpose in life. It is a shining example of a perfect movie experience and a carefully paved way to self discovery.

The energy of a Fantastic family

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“Captain Fantastic” is truly a unique movie experience which you must take in deep.

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Sure, this film is not that much perfect. Sure, the screenplay takes some questionable turns at some singular moments. But it is damn energetic and absolutely unapologetic!

In other words – I loved it! It seems that last year was a really god year for films after all. I am surprised by the variety of movies which surprised me, evoking the whole spectrum of emotions from the inner and outer cosmos.
And “Captain Fantastic” is the newest addition to this list of special experiences which make our lives richer. The film from Matt Ross is a beautiful nod both to a long gone social movement and to our newly found 21st Century new age way of life. I am really, really impressed by the cast. Wonderful performances from Viggo Mortensen and the whole ensemble of his “children” (watch out in the future again for: George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks and Charlie Shotwell). This “family” invigorates the viewer with fresh voices speaking of freedom, change and at the same time of social and family values which we all tend to forget on a daily basis.
Mortensen’s character is both arrogant and loving to everybody around him which makes him really a nicely developed controversial person. It is refreshing for every viewer see such qualities together. I myself felt questioning many of the choices which I make as a parent. Which is a wise nod from the director to us all. Close community living and modern life technologies clash in front of the hippie background.

The emotional connection is beautifully shot, using the metaphor of travel as the ultimate vessel for overpowering oneself. Any back to nature spirit will find something for itself in this movie. I think that this film is a carefully polished heartfelt jewel giving us a glimpse of what an emotional crisis looks like from a more subtle and graceful point of view.

What touches us in this comedic drama is the thought-provoking youth performance which resonates with our every day struggle to find all the right answers to the question: What it really means to be a parent…

The mundane life of a great poet

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Paterson is a nice little quiet movie which is, by the way, larger than life…

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Don’t let me misguide you – this is not a controversial movie, this is a slow paced film about the small things in life which make us happy. And which we miss all the time…

So, yes – Adam Driver – he is the movie, no doubt about that. Just check his non profit organization (http://www.aitaf.org) and you will see that he really was “the one” for this role. And his picture in the marine corp suit in the movie is a real one. This also leads us to get the impression that he (as a quiet poet, driving every day a bus in a smaller city named the same as his character) is the centerpiece on the film. Yes, but to some extent. I think that the real main character of this beautiful art piece is the mundane life itself. With every good and bad thing about it. I also need to favor the supporting cast – from Golshifteh Farahani (what a name!) to all the twins seen in this movie – everybody plays exceptionally well. I just didn’t get the Everett role – maybe because it seemed like a piece from a stage acting class done as a separate enclave in this movie. I understand the purpose of the whole Marie and Everett vehicle, but it still seemed a bit odd and off for me.
Other than that – the ensemble of actors is really great.

And the city of Paterson – I wonder if Jim Jarmush’s whole idea was to create this film as an ode to this city. Probably yes! And it sounds pretty romantic (given the circumstances) to a 30-year old male from Bulgaria, thousand of miles far away from this location. So the whole background story of the city itself clicks pretty well for the viewer I think.

The music is a bit strong at times but generally favors the situations and emotions and compliments them.

This is a very ordinary story and at the same time it creates extraordinary feelings in the viewer – that we must enjoy our lives as they are, not necessary as we want to think they are. Love, compassion, romanticism, calmness, diversity – every word fits well for this film. I enjoyed it quietly, calmly and respectfully. It is a movie for the lovebirds for the families, for the local communities, it is a movie for every one.

So, although it might seem slow and that nothing ever will happen in it – great things appear under the surface of this motion picture. Humanity itself is peeking out from Paterson’s character. Mundane, yet full of creative energy, ready to burst from the screen.

Please support this movie, so that others like it are made more often!

The fools who dream of La La Land

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And here’s to the fools
who dream
Crazy, as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make…

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I really, really love to discuss such heartwarming movies, which deliver the full specter of positive to melancholic emotions, but no negativity at all.
“La La Land” from Damien Chazelle is indeed an awaited masterpiece after his break performance with Whiplash. So much energy and genuine talent is represented in his scripts, directing and music, that I am truly inspired after watching his every film. His producers are really joyful after working with him, describing him as a very young visionary, who really lives with his work, and tell that after he is done with a movie, he lingers on it long after the shooting is done. Maybe because for any true auteur every piece of art is like a new baby born by his imagination and hard work.

So this time he chose a more familiar cast – Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (the latter can Really sing!). I think that they both got talent and am really a fan of Gosling’s film project choices. He truly does not have a failure (yes, I am looking at you newcoming Blade Runner movie!). So having also the chemistry between them two, the director can only pinpoint the amazing, yet pretty often used storyline.

I prefer not to speak so much about script, rather than music and performances. The feel which we get from this movie is rather energetic, fresh and warm. Life is really nothing but a sequence of events which we truly must welcome and embrace, not matter the costs of mistakes and misses. The passion of the main characters for what they love and do is indeed great, but it pales in front of these rare moments of togetherness in creativity which they have. And that’s why the third act is the strongest one. When they break out, they estrange from each other, but not to the point of losing that connection which they have from the beginning. And although people are born alone and constantly move on and change, these two characters really resemble our ever lingering spirit of dreaming and high hopes. Even if the reality crumbles, even if Sebastian and Mia choose separating paths, they are bound to be together in their dreams. And when those dreams come true, they are happy despite the physical distance between them.

There is much wisdom in this film. And the beautiful shots are really complimentary to the exact directing of the motion. Los Angeles is a really nice scene for the story and the color palette of the movie is truly positive.
I want to point out the song which Mia sings at the last casting – “Audition”. It truly made me smile, because it represents a spirit, which I don’t really show, but which I love. And reminded to me of a very special person of mine.
Also, I want to express my deepest respect of the conclusion song and montage. I really turned this 9/10 movie into 10/10 for me.

Love and Creativity are truly strong forces in our lives. They show our spirit and souls like nothing else. And even our mind and perception are puzzled by the disappearing boundaries which are torn down by everlasting art.

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Westworld is growing on me

The variety of story lines in one’s life is as limitless as his imagination…

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Mr. Nolan really is doing a great job with this show. And HBO is constantly trying to stay ahead of its competition. To my surprise Westworld is getting better with each episode and I suspect a really nice turn of events at the end of the show.

But what is really important with these TV stories is that Westworld is very ambitious. From the cast to the script – everything is thought out really well and innovative. Although the origins of this script can be found in Mr. Crichton’s story, we can clearly see why HBO took this project in – from the personal perspective of the viewer, to the general assumptions of classes in society, this show is more than all-embracing.

The actors’ role in storytelling is really smartly conveyed here as well. I cannot imagine a better tale about the joys and tears of an acting career. We can clearly see the metaphors in act, and we are the ones who ask the questions about them. Some are answered, but most are left to our imagination.

The topics – about the person’s place in this life, about the meaning of destiny, about the origin of one’s values, about class structure, about illuminati, about the beauty of nature, about the grasp of human intelligence and its limits, about the fluent merging of genres in cinema, about the crazy use of lighting and sound…and mostly – about acting. True lessons of acting, based on a really simple, but layered style of storytelling. As old as a Greek myth and as new as a sci-fi bestseller in 2017.

Anthony Hopkins is genius, Ed Harris is a brute, Evan Rachel Wood is splendid and man, those side characters…you just can’t forget them…

I recommend to all of you – please give this show a chance. It will at least make you think of your path on creating your soul.ine0yi3utdf5sbjctdii

Why I love graphic novels

Hello again, Friends!
I wish to congratulate you with the new 2016 and wish all the best to you and to your families! May the new times bring us more reasons to feel happy!

Part from my happiness is my love for graphic novels. A passion about which I haven’t written until now.
But here is the first post about “The Ninth art” and I want to make it true – less words, more panels.

First of all I would like to say some words about the medium – comics and graphic novels. Some people say that this is just for kids and teenagers and they are completely right! I am still a kid. And I love it! I am sure that every person who has read the great examples of this art knows that they are as much as valuable for one’s personal growth as any other type of art. Especially the graphic novels gratify so much, that I even feel that sometimes they save my mental state. One can learn a lot about character development, harmony of lines and colors, positioning of words, expressionism and human relations from the best artists in the world. And the stories – oh yes – many books and movies were and will be made out of comics and graphic novels. Namely because a goods story and characters are today not so easy to find or to invent. You need great imagination to be able to create and inspire with your panels. And this is where I stop to talk in general and show you my favorite artists, books and panels from graphic novels and comics which I never the less recommend to you to read…

1.) In my first post about my favorite graphic novel artists I would like to show you the best one (in my opinion) – Andreas:

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The German author, living and publishing in France is by far my most favorite from them all. Greatly unknown to the public – his best works – Rork, Cromwell Stone, Cyrrus-Mil, Arq, Capricorne, The Cave of memories, Coutoo, etc. – are essentially masterpieces. I shall not speak more, I just need to show you several of his panels:

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His painting style, his lines, his panels’ composition, his stories – everything is so imaginative and great, that I simply do not have words to explain it. Just looking at the pictures above makes me smile and feel happy that there is such an artist on this world. And that he still continues to work and be published. His stories are unimaginably creative, his characters are always mysterious and layered. Bis backgrounds and settings are combination of real and purely fictional facts and images. I have no doubt that his albums deserve even better recognition and I will always recommend them to the people I know. You should read them and enjoy them – they are something very precious. Unfortunately most of his albums are not translated into English yet. Coutoo and Rork have English editions, but mostly his works are in French, Spanish and German. I hope that one day all of his albums will be published in English.

Anyway, this is my first long post about the artists and their works which I want to share with you. Hopefully I will have the time to write soon about other of my favorites – Moebius, Druillet, Moore, Otomo, Urasawa, Taniguchi, Inoue, Shuiten and others.

Have a great 2016 everybody! 🙂

The Revenant

The most highly anticipated film of the year has leaked for good or for bad…

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I must say that DiCaprio is continuously over the top…

To explain the least – Mr. Glass, DiCaprio’s  character, is a strong source material. But to be able to deliver such a performance, you have to not only dedicate all your strength and stamina, but also have a huge talent – something which Leonardo has in abundance.
Combining this with Inarritu’s perfect directing skills and Lubezki’s paranormal filming abilities – this one had to be the best of the year.

And indeed it is – the struggle between man and nature, the vengeance trip, the human relationships, the environmental message – we all see that in its entire run. I must admit that the rawness of the shots were a bit too much at some times for me, but this indeed made the movie true to the real life of these people at that time and at that place.

The music is by Ryuichi Sakamoto and I strongly recommend it to every open soul which desires to hear something new and vibrant. The costumes are profoundly adequate and the narrative is rich with pristine survival instincts.

But the main character in this film is the nature itself. No matter if we speak about the snow, the trees, the bear or the wind itself – this is what really shakes the viewer in his seat. I purposely didn’t pay much attention to the dialogue, but rather enjoyed the “conversations” between Glass and his environment. His journey is delicately decorated with flashbacks and dreamlike visions which explain not only the personal story of the character, but also his urge to finish this journey and do what he has to do.

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The movie is long enough for you to be able to immerse in the setting, so take your time and don’t rush to deduct or explain it. There will be plenty of reasons to do that in the next years which I am sure will prove it to be a classic.