Borrowed shapes

For some years now my friend Max has been inviting me to Oscar parties. It has become a fun tradition mostly because we get a chance to catch up and eat till it gets hard to move from the couch. I get to talk  with his friends who are usually involved in a way or another in making documentaries and passionate discussions and rip offs circle about films keep us occupied.

While watching the ending credits for “Shape of Water” at the end of December I remember thinking the Academy will love this film. The magical and impressive production design, the overall style-an homage and a love letter to classic cinema, the Broadway elements, the 50s setting and political undertones. The main actors don’t disappoint and the sea/god creature looked good. I wasn’t swept away by the love story on screen which seemed rather corny and cheesy to me but Michael Shannon was so terrific and terrifying that it made all flaws go away. Temporarily.

I like del Toro and some of his previous films are much better but what’s sad is that “Shape of Water” borrowed heavily from several other films. And it’s not subtle at all. Check the video below.


shape of water

Best films of 2017-Top 45

1. Nocturama
2. Loveless
3. After the Storm
4. Ma
5. The Square
6. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
7. The Salesman
8. Zama
9. The Day After
10. The Work
11. Columbus
12. The Ornithologist
13. Princess Cyd
14. Sexy Durga
15. Mudbound
16. On The Beach at Night Alone
17. The Strange Ones
18. A Fantastic Woman
19. I Am Not Your Negro
20. Where is Kyra?
21. Call Me By Your Name
22. Good Time
23. Menashe
24. Get Out
25. The Florida Project
26. The Other Side of Hope
27. Arabia
28. My Happy Family
29. Your Name
30. Lady Bird
31. Bitch
32. BPM
33. A Ghost Story
34. Breadwinner
35. Arabia
36. All This Panic
37. Beach Rats
38. The Lovers
39. Three Billboards

40. Lost City of Z
41. Silence
42. Casting Jon Benet
43. Rat Film
44. Pendular
45. Okja

Your precious opinion

Romanian filmmaker Adina Pintilie won more than a week ago the Golden Bear for “Touch Me Not” at Berlin Film Festival and it was a big surprise for everyone. On social media a lot of people made negative comments about the film and jumped on sharing a harsh review from Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian). “Touch Me Not” generated mixed reactions but that’s usually the case with controversial works of art. Still it seemed odd to me that everybody felt the need to focus their entire attention on the most negative one. Adina worked for 7 years to make this film and the result is a rare type of documentary with experimental elements attached to it. The subject of intimacy seems fascinating to me and whether I’ll end up liking the film or not I admire her for trying to do something different, pushing the envelope and exploring such a relevant aspect of our lives. It takes guts, dedication and courage!

Why would anybody chose to talk or write about a film they haven’t seen? Is it a sense of entitlement that gets in the way of an objective analysis or a compulsive need to butcher a form of art they have little respect towards? Or do we gain a sense of superiority and significance by putting others down in a lowest coward fashion online where you don’t have to look eye to eye? The synopsis of a film is definitely not something you should base your opinion on nor are the mixed published reviews. Risk takers will often be perceived as controversial and often get misunderstood.  Our reactions & impressions on a film tend to be quite subjective anyways so one should have the decency to refrain commenting about it. Until you actually see it. Don’t quote that British film critic wait till you can formulate your own opinion. Can’t be that hard right? Oh but wait nowadays we all have opinions. About everything we know or we don’t know. And curiosity is dead.

Catfight or how to calm your nerves

There are days when you’re overwhelmed by an anger steadily growing inside you like an ivy plant suffocating any other vegetation around it. It might be the city and its crazy energy and those human interactions like two boiling teapots fighting for the same stove. Sometimes you manage to calm down without yelling at friends, strangers or family members but quite often there’s a clear air of defeat.

From anger to actual physical violence can be a quick transition but our education and moral compass tells us to control those impulses. An act of violence will grow exponentially up to a total chaos. But when it’s a film, a comedy we leave reality norms for 2 hours aside. Thank God!  In “Catfight” the times when somebody stepped on your nerves so hard you imagined to punch them for a few seconds becomes part of the actual narrative. It’s funny and cathartic to a degree but most amusing are the witty, sarcastic dialogues between the two main characters. Sandra Oh and Anne Heche are a fantastic duo on screen and the art world and rich people are majestically and efficiently trashed through their characters. The world in “Catfight” is absurd and realistic to a degree and even scary. As if nightmares gain substance over night.The social critique feels relevant as well the “fart content” of the media and its brainwashing.

There are also hilarious scenes involving Alicia Silverstone character, a fake baby, a baby shower, some random tree caressing but you should discover all of that when you see “Catfight”. Don’t want to spoil your ride…

Not sure why there had to be almost identical consequences for their vicious fights but this detail didn’t affect my overall fun experience of “Catfight”. See it at Cinema Village this week! Thanks Onur Terkel for writing and directing this mad gem!



Best Documentaries of 2014

There are plenty of interesting documentaries that I’ve missed but thanks to DOC NYC I discovered “The Overnighters” and “Salt of the Earth” that will continue to haunt me for a while. It’s wonderful that “Citizenfour” can still be seen at IFC 2 months after its premiere and “Finding Vivian Maier” was a pleasant fixture at the same art cinema but otherwise… too often good documentaries have only a modest 1-2 weeks run in theaters. It feels like a never ending chase to watch them before they disappear. It’s unfair because frequently filmmakers invest several years of their life to shoot and edit their documentaries.

1. The Overnighters

2. The Salt of the Earth

3. Citizenfour

4. Finding Vivian Maier

5. Waiting for August

6. Jodorowsky’s Dune

7. The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

8. The Green Prince

9. National Gallery

10. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

11. 20.000 Days on Earth

12. Marmato

13. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

14. Inequality for All

15. Pulp: A Film about Life, Death& Supermarkets

16. Iris

17. Actress

18. Waiting for the Elephant

19. Evolution of a Criminal

20.Children 404

Best 30 Films of 2014

This top 30 consists of films that managed to differentiate themselves in 2014 through a very unique and consistent vision, a high level of overall quality, impeccable writing, choices that showcased courage and assumed creative risks, emotion, surprising choices and an interesting structure/concept. The order is not that relevant. I tried not to include titles that are predictable or emulate overused formulas created to please at all costs/artistic compromises. And I’ve left aside films like “Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game” because the screenwriting is often mediocre, boring, playing safe all the time. Both of them were made after the “awards (Academy) snatching recipe” and for me are forgettable and disappointing. An earlier version of this top was published in among other lists made by Romanian film critics.

  1. Birdman
  2. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
  3. Ida
  4. Starred Up
  5. Force Majeure
  6. Boyhood
  7. Hide Your Smiling Faces
  8. Jauja
  9. Winter Sleep
  10. Leviathan
  11. Foxcatcher
  12. Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
  13. Locke
  14. Two Days, One Night
  15. Rover
  16. Abuse of Weakness
  17. Calvary
  18. Whiplash
  19. The Double
  20. 71
  21. La Danza dela realidad
  22. Goodbye to Language 3D
  23. Love is Strange
  24. Under the Skin
  25. Frank
  26. Nightcrawler
  27. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her
  28. Mood Indigo
  29. Clouds of Sils Maria
  30. QED (Quot Erat Demonstrandum)


My interview with Andrew Dosunmu for Brio Pop

Interview with Andrew Dosunmu for Brio Pop
Page 40

Top films of 2013

1. Before Midnight
before midnight 2

2. Nebraska
3. Short Term 12
4. Stories We Tell
5. Her
6. Mother of George
7. Frances Ha
8. To The Wonder
9. The Act of Killing
10. 12 Years of Slave
11. Inside Llewyn Davis
12. Spring Breakers
13. Beyond the Hills
14. American Hustle
15. Prisonners
16. Spectacular Now
17. No
18. Hannah Arendt
19. Dallas Buyers Club
20. Mud
21. In the House
22. Blue Jasmine

A Question of Time

Time can’t be changed. Regrets can be felt as mountains on our shoulders. If we can’t forgive or let it go. And mysteriously it runs faster or slower for us as a kid playing tricks while laughing loud. At Governor’s Jazz Lawn at the end of this summer time was controlled and moved back to the 20s to a beautiful era. This lady looks like she’s praying while observing her son and in time she will remember this moment.

Cross roads of love

You don’t love somebody expecting or asking to be loved back in the same way. It’s not a market transaction when the quantity it’s placed on scale and reduced to a fixed value with interest like a heart loan. The sacrifices and feelings you pour in front of your partner shouldn’t be used as a currency and pressure to get the same thing back. The moment when you ask to be loved because of what you did and went through for somebody breaks an untouchable magic and makes God angry. All that purity and beauty of love turns rotten and poisonous. Dark clouds are rushing over the relationship and that special connection is gone. The hell begins to build itself with confidence.

Ryan Gosling ‘s character in Blue Valentine expects to be showered with warm affection from his busy stressed wife and demands it as if it’s the easiest thing to do. But love comes and go. When it starts to step back you have to dig hard to discover why and then to work building its main structure again.  But not all of us have reached maturity and wisdom in love matters. Experience helps you understand things but the lack of it might doom your love. How should two people communicate and find a common ground. By avoiding to be too selfish, listen well your half and find a common talking channel.

Love is crazy, foolish and it’s not directed by mind and ruled by intellect. You can’t control it choose the time it comes and who’s the person that the arrow will find. But context and timing can affect it in a difficult way and that’s the case with our couple from “Blue Valentine”. They’re both lost and in denial and they start to really see and understand each other in the last scene of the film in the kitchen. The ending can be perceived in two ways: either they’ ll start to respect each other more and reshape their marriage or just get a divorce. But there’s hope… and you can smell that perfume.