Thursday, April 27, 2006

Movies #5

Sofia Film Fest in Plovdiv - Personal Report and Impressions (part III)

The last one, “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring Again” (2003) is completely different. It is a deep spiritual drama, directed by the Korean Kim Ki-duk. The movie is divided into 5 chapters, the seasons from the title. The story takes place high in the mountains where a small isolated Buddhist temple is floating in a lake. There an old monk teaches a little boy harsh lessons about life. Years later, the grown boy falls in love with an ill girl, who came to the temple to seek cure. Her body is unharmed, but her spirit is troubled. She finds salvation in the boy’s love. Here we have some erotic scenes, I guess they were meant to be pure and innocent looking, but there’s nothing really remarkable about them. Later on the boy leaves his old life behind and escapes from the temple to be with the girl. He returns years later, haunted by his horrible deeds, done because of jealousy. Silence and long nearly motionless scenes are OK with me, the pictures tell their story. The open shots are beautiful and inspiring, but in such location it will be spectacular even if you shoot the birds’ drops on the roof of the temple – it all just looks peaceful and harmonic. I guess the western audience will be more fascinated than me, but I’ve seen more than one Asian movies and a lot of anime titles, so I am used to such motives. The first fragment, “Spring”, about the boy’s youth was the most interesting for me, simple but strong. I am not really into topics like romantic love, sexual desire, lust and jealousy, but I like the way the movie shows how love makes one to be blind and to betray his principles. I look at it as a different approach to the story about the fall of the good man to the Dark Side. The old monk’s words were very close to Yoda’s “Attachment leads to jealousy. Shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” The story is not necessarily trying to push you some religious Buddhist wisdom, it tells about the circle of life, the mistakes one can make blinded by feelings. It is a masterfully shot, visually beautiful and emotionally charged movie, but there are a couple of things I don’t like – at the end there were some moments that seemed illogical to me, some symbols that were not clear enough, and they left me confused after the end - the old man was trying to help his apprentice to overcome his anger and sorrow, but put an end to his own life. Out of his pyre a snake came out. What was that all about? And the in final episode, when there comes that woman with a baby – I don’t think it is well told, it leaves the audience to wonder what is happening. Maybe it requires a second watch to get a clearer view, or maybe it has something to do with the Buddhist culture or Korean mythology. Or maybe someone is just trying to be enigmatic to look more profound and philosophic. All in all – it is a very good movie if not excellent, but according to me not that great that everyone is trying to present it. I find phrases like “The most beautiful film I’ve ever seen” and “Left me speechless” generally exaggerated. But it’s definitely very worth watching.

Well, that was all about the 10th Sofia Film Fest from me! See you in the cinema!

Приключенията на Young_Jedi #2

По това време на деня улиците бяха пусти. Жегата принуждаваше повечето от жителите на Мос Айсли да търсят убежище в хладните ъгълчета на баровете. Един очукан спидер профуча шумно по почти празните улици, карайки няколкото дажуи суетящи наблизо да извърнат погледи и да проследят пътя му надолу със светещите си очички.--Утидиии! - викна един от тях след спидера.
Спидера спря пред бара до космопорта. От него слезе човек в прашна джедайска роба.YJ се поотупа от прахоляка, изплю влезлия в устата му пясък и се насочи към вратата на бара.Любопитни погледи обходиха джедая.Във въздуха се примесваха различни миризми, предимно неприятни, а шумноте разговори наоколо заглушаваха почни напълно и без това тихата музика. YJ си проби път между разнообразието от видове, седна до бара и си поръча питие. Щеше му се да понаучи някои местни новини и слухове. На място като Мос Айсли човек никога не знае на какво може да се натъкне. Убежище на отрепки и престъпници...Някой бутна YJ не особено дружелюбно. Беше някакъв еднорък грозник..."Като говорим за отрепки..." - помисли си YJ--Приятелят ми не те харесва - каза грозникът с дрезгав глас--Съжалявам - отвърна YJ и се обърна отново към питието си.Оня обаче не се отказа:--И аз също не те харесвам!--Аха, чакай да позная... - YJ се направи на замислен и се почеса небрежно зад ухото - Имаш смъртни присъди в 12 системи?Едноръкия направи гневна физиономия и замахна...YJ реагира светкавично. За части от секундата дръжката на меча се озова в ръцет му и от нея с жужащ звук се подаде острието на джедайското оръжие. Една ръка падна безжизнена на пода в алена локвичка.
"Тия момчета никога няма да се научат..." - поклати глава YJ и метна монета към бармана.--Извинявай за бъркотията.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Movies #4

Sofia Film Fest in Plovdiv - Personal report and Impressions (part II)

The movies I saw were “Munje!” (“Thunderbirds!”), “Kad porastem bicu kengur” (“When I grow up I’ll be a Kangaroo”) and “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring Again”.
“Munje!” (2001) is a Serbian comedy written by Srdja Andjelic and directed by Radivoje Andric. The main characters are ordinary young guys, living in Belgrade. Mare and Pop are two musician wannabees, trying to get some appreciation and achieve something in life. And soon they’re in the middle of a mess. Even if the movies is often said to be underground, it looks well, shot with good equipment and nice colors and lights. It feels different from most of the Balkan movies these days, which is good if you want to attract young audience and make it watch your movie instead of the blockbuster in the local cinema. All in all, the movie didn’t touch me, but people who are into drum’n’bass music will surely like it.
“Kad Porastem Bicu Kengur” (2004) – again Serbian comedy, again directed by Radivoje Andric, again aiming at the young audience. The characters are quite similar, most of the actors are from the “Munje!” cast, the vision and the style are identical too. The story here is situated in a common Belgrade neighbourhood. Braca is trying to get a normal date with the model Iris. Somi and Duje bet on the London football club Eastwich, where their school friend is goalkeeper, against favourite Manchester United. The guys from the neighbourhood are gathered in the local Café to watch the game, cursing and debating. Hibrid and Avaks spend their days killing time at the rooftop, drinking beer, listening to the radio and smoking weed if there’s any, holding tight to their philosophy – “We don’t have any incomes, we don’t have any outcomes.” Oh, and there’s an UFO ;) The movie feels close to the reality of the majority of the young people in the ex-socialistic republics (among which is also Bulgaria). The characters are confused when their childhood is gone and they realize that life goes on very fast and they haven’t achieved anything. They keep their dreams, trapped in the reality where their efforts are rarely rewarded. With this comes the lack of motivation and they find themselves fighting with their own laziness and weak will. The movie makes a good social comment, without trying to be harsh or edifying. It is a cheerful film, optimistic at some degree. It’s nothing brilliant, but it’s a refreshing piece of cinema.

To Be Continued...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Art #3
Linda Bergkvist - a talanted digital artist. Check out her web-site and find more art on the net. Pure eye-pleasure!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Quotes #7

"People break down into two groups when the experience something lucky. Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation isn't fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"

Graham Hess (Mel Gibson, "Signs")

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Music #9

S.P.O.C.K. are another band I found accidently wile looking for songs with Star Wars references. They were a really very pleasant surprise - neat space-pop sound and all of their lyrivs are sci-fi inspired. Here is one of their darker songs. Be sure that there are more to come in the next issues of my Music rubric.

S.P.O.C.K. - The Last Man On Earth

The human race is dead
there's not a single head
Wherever I see
there's no one but me

The last nuclear war
a horror never seen before
Nobody could understand why
everybody had to die

But the planet is still alive
nature did survive
A world by my own
but still all alone
I'm the last man on earth

Radiation got me as well
made me immortal in this hell
An old dream coming true
but why now when there is nothing to do

Since then I've been searching around
going from town to town
Could it only have happened to me
Am I doomed to be...
I'm the last man on earth

The robots are now in control
better be aware of their patrol
I have everything to fear if they
find me out here

I'm the last man on earth

Movies #3

Sofia Film Fest in Plovdiv – Personal report and impressions (part I)

The traditional 10th Sofia Film Fest took place as usual from 9 to 19 March. For the first time this year the festival was spread outside the capital. Movies were to be shown in Bourgas and Plovdiv.
16 March – Day one of the Plovdiv program. Here I am, missing the Latin classes and heading towards Lucky Cinema. I was there about an hour earlier than the scheduled opening of the festival, expecting to find the place full of guests and journalists. Instead of that I found myself in the nearly empty entrance hall of the cinema. There were only a few bored staff members preparing lights and a table for the cocktail. So I sat in the hall, reading the last pages of Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and waiting for something to happen. About 17.45 came some important looking people, followed by some more important looking people and soon the place was crawling with local journalists. I put on my glasses and looked around for someone familiar. I got the usual festival feeling – everyone is someone, everyone knows someone, nearly all of them wear badges with their names… Only I stand aside trying to be a part of the big thing but no one seems to notice me, like a puppy running around the table, waving his tail and waiting to be scratched behind the ears. A man looking for a seat approached me and I moved my backpack making some space for him on the bench. “Damn, he looks so much like… Rangel Valchanov” – I thought as the man near me. I wasn’t really sure if this is really him, and I tried not to stare at him. “Should I talk to him? Is he really…?” And after some time the man walked away, talked with some of the guests and went out of my sight.
A spokesman greeted the guests with the typical “Thank you everyone for coming here tonight” and such and invited everyone at the cocktail. The guests head on to the table and I still wonder if the cocktail is for everybody or just for the guys with the badges. But finally the puppy got tired of waiting for someone to throw him a bone. I went to the table, took a beer and a nice looking girl opened the bottle for me and smiled. I looked around for something like appetizer and…I felt ashamed. The people around acted like they had never seen food. Snatching the sandwiches, taking away the ham, crossing their forks fighting for salad… One of them even stole the whole pineapple from the fruit salad and hid it in his bag! Makes you wonder who’s the hungry student here, huh?
But the real shame was just about to start. The announcer said a few cliché’s a-la “the movies are magic” and introduced the first special guest. Guess who? Julia Roberts! “No chance!” and “Yeah, right” were heard from the small crowd around. And some chick in fancy dress goes down the stairs, says a couple of words in bad English and goes away. Not that I expected any different but… Followed some more models (models is perhaps too strong, if you were close enough you could see that they were more like crocodiles with make-up), the so called Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Calista Flockhart (she was so deep in her acting that she even nearly fell down the stairs, but the announcer caught her) and Catherine Zeta-Jones. In most of the cases the only resemblance to the original was the hair color. I don’t know if this was meant to be a self –parody, but that’s what it was. I mean, come on, we all know that this isn’t Hollywood. But there were REALLY some special guests – I noticed two young French actresses among the people, several directors… They could introduce them instead of some poor try to be original and funny.
And just when I thought that the opening of the fest is complete failure there came a guy to give a speech. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you Rangel Valchanov”. So I wasn’t wrong! It was him after all. Rangel Valshanov really managed to cheer the crowd up with his witty little speech - “I’m really glad that you’re all here tonight. You wanna know why? There’s a football game going on on the TV at this very same moment. Some guys are trying to kick a ball. But you’ve said “Blah, I don’t wanna watch this crap!” and here you are – in the cinema, supporting this festival, filling your cultural gaps…if you have any.”
After the speech he walked around talking to some people. I wanted to exchange a few words with him from the moment I saw him so… I finished my second Stella Artois, plucked up some courage and approached him. “Uh… I just wanted to say “Hi”, cause, you know, I don’t see Rangel Valchanov every day and if I miss the chance tomorrow I’ll probably say to myself “Damn, I stare at Rangel Valchanov all the evening and I didn’t even say Hi” – I said. Probably the most stupid “Hi” I’ve ever said to someone… Then we talked about the fest a little bit, he strongly recommended me to see “Capote” and when heard about my ambitions to study for a movie director he said with a smile “Go!”
The movie which opened the Sofia Film Fest in Plovdiv was “L’Enfant” (“The Child”) – Belgium-French production, awarded with Golden Palm at Cannes 2005. The following days the atmosphere of the fest was calm and peaceful, one could easily go to the cinema without noticing anything special except the festival posters. The program included two movies per day. Each day there was a special festival guest, who shared his impressions with the audience after the screenings of the movies. Among the guests were Zornitsa Sophia, the widely discussed director of “Mila from Mars” and Vesela Kazakova, Mila herself. Vesela Kazakova already has a numerous awards after starring in some of the most successful Bulgarian films for the last couple of years (“Crazy Day”, “Mila from Mars”, “Stolen Eyes”). Now that she was granted the Best Actress Award at the Moscow Film Festival, 2005 she’s getting even more popular. I met her at the entrance hall of Lucky Cinema one evening. Surrounded by a couple of journalists and the local idiot Stefcho The Autograph (an impudent maniac that goes on every event he can, waving around a shabby notebook, collecting autographs from anyone. The poor guy believes that he’ll be in Guinness World Records). Finally after most of the pesterers went away I managed to meet Vesela Kazakova. Even if she was under pressure she was kind enough to give me an autograph and talk with me for a while. Unfortunately she had no spare time at all and she was going back to Sofia the next morning so she kindly refused my invitation for a drink.
Full list of the titles included in the fest plus their annotations and reviews was printed in the free SFF guide (and still can be found online at ). The price of the tickets was 4 leva for studends, which is 1 lev above the usual ticket price in Plovdiv (not to mention that there are two cinemas which show movies for 1 lev only!). There were some special offers – buy a special card and watch the movies cheaper, but even that wasn’t attractive enough for me. You just cannot afford to see all the movies. Many people preferred to download them from the net and watch them at home.

End of Part I - To Be Continued...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Comics #2 + Animation #8

It's really a shame that so many french cartoons have no comments or rating in IMDb. I guess that this is because the American audience have no chance to see most of these cartoons and probably the french guys have enough french sites and don't pay much attention to write reviews here. Anyway, I don't know how many people will read this one, but I want to make these french animations more popular, because they are really great, some of them a lot better than the American shows. And I do not mean only the old ones, but also these made nowadays. If you have a chance check out "Belphegor", "Chris Colorado", "Michel Vaillant", "Tchoupi et Doudou", "Pif & Hercules", "Spirou" and so on. Most of these are based on famous french comics (and we all know that the french comics are one of the best in the world and can compete even giants like Dark Horse, Marvel or DC) - you sure have heard of Asterix, Lucky Luke and so on. Rahan is also based on a french comic series. It is still very popular today after all these years. The story of the series takes us back in time, in the savage age of cavemen, tribes and prehistoric monsters. Our hero, Rahan, is raised by a wise chief of a tribe, who saved him as a baby after Rahan's parents have been killed by a saber-tooth. But one day the mountain that is near the village of Rahan and his people turns out to be volcano. And a sudden eruption kills everyone except Rahan. At his last hour the chief gives to Rahan a necklace of teeth, which is given from father to son for generations in his family. Each teeth represents a quality - bravery, wisdom, spirit, peace and so on. And Rahan has to find his quality and add a new one to the necklace. And Rahan takes on a long long journey. His dream is to find Sun's Home - the place where the Sun rests in the night. He finds his way by rolling his bone knife an a stone and the direction the knife shows when it stops is the direction Rahan goes. On his way he meets many new people and faces many dangers. Rahan becomes adventurer and explorer, and he helps the other tribes with his wisdom and knowledge. For instance there was an episode about the last Tyranosaur on Earth. The carnivore was accepted as a god by a tribe and they gave him humans as a sacrifice. But Rahan found bones of Tyranosaurs and showed to the men that this is an animal, but not an immortal godlike creature. And near the tribe's caves there was a hill, which they believed was haunted, because when there was a storm lightnings strike the peak all the time. Rahan went to the cursed place and found a metal spear, left there by an unknown hunter. And he found that it is the spear which attracts the lightnings (a prehistoric lightning-conductor). He took the spear and faced the giant monster. Rahan managed to stick the metal weapon in the Tyranosaur's head and when the storm came the lightnings killed the animal. The animation of the show is really very good, though nowadays we've seen fancy and colorful cartoons. If you've watched Ralph Bakshi's "Fire and Ice" and you like it - be sure that you'll also love Rahan.

The Web #7 - a neat little site, updated weekly. There you can find episodes of various cartoons for direct download. Usually with cheap quality, but still watchable...and for free :)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Quotes #6

"Imagine me needing someone. Back on Earth I never did. Oh, there were women. Lots of women. Lots of love-making but no love. You see, that was the kind of world we'd made. So I left, because there was no one to hold me there."

George Taylor (Planet of the Apes - 1968)
Charlton Heston (Taylor) and Linda Harrison (Nova)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Приключенията на Young_Jedi #1

Двете слънца бавно се спускаха зад ръба на хоризонта, обагряйки татуинското небе в пурпурни багри. Пясъчните хора бяха наблюдавали тази гледка хиляди пъти. Но днес тя бе по-различна. Пред пламтящия диск на залязващто слънце се оберта тъмен силует, който се уголемяваше с всяка минута. В началото бе едва забележима точка, която вероятно невъоръжено око трудно би могло да види, но тускените одавна се бяха приспособили към суровите условия на пустинята. В мига в който забелязаха силуета те се прикриха зад близките дюни. Бластерните им пушки бяха в готовност и те дебнеха приближаващия спидер. Човекът в него беше сам. Лесна плячка.

--Docking bay ninety-four, stormtroopers at the door...
YJ пееше с цяло гърло, опитвайки се да надвика едновременно музиката, която звучеше от радиото на спидера и ръмженето на двигателя. Тъкмо се беше разправил със сбирщина търговци на роби. Хътяните щяха да платят цяло състояние за трите Twi'lek танцьорки с изваяни тела. YJ докосна брадясалата си буза, където го беше целунала зеленокожата девойка и на лицето му грейна усмивка на удовлетворение. "Обичам работата си!" - помисли си той.

Внезапно усещане за опасност прекъсна спомените му от скорошното приключение. Той усети присъствието на три същества, скрити зад приближаващите дюни.
--Пясъчни хора...-измърмори той и отпусна газта.
Спидера бе на около 30-40 метра от укритието на тускените, когато първият изстрел изсвистя покрай ушите на YJ. Три парзаливи фигури се показаха над пясъчния хълм и насочиха дулата си към приближаващата машина.
YJ направи рязък завой и форсира двигателя.
Ако по защитните маски на тускените можеше да се прочете някакво чувство то вероятно в този миг то би било смайване и изненада. Спидерът рязко бе променил посоката си и сега се насочваше към тях с пълна газ! Двама от мародерите се хвърлиха встрани, третият залегна и се изтъркаля надолу по пясъчния склон миг преди летящата с бясна скорост машина да прелети над главата му.
YJ нададе победоносен вик
--Сбогом, кухоглавцииииии! - извика той и помаха с ръка на тускените, които останаха назад по пътя му обгърнати в облак прах.

The Web #6

One of the greatest torrent trackers on the net. Various old school cartoons, MST3K shows, Cartoon Network rips, making and BTS footage, Star Wars edits and so on.