Pociąg / Night Train / Baltic Express (1959 Polish Film): Commentary and Review

Night Train, also known as Baltic Express, is the English title for Pociąg, a 1959 Polish language film directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Train_%281959_film%29

The jazz leifmotif theme throughout the film is haunting. I want it as my phone’s ringtone!

Directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Written by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Jerzy Lutowski
Starring: Lucyna Winnicka, Leon Niemczyk
Music by: Andrzej Trzaskowski
Cinematography by Jan Laskowski
Edited by Wieslawa Otocka
Distributed by Telepix
Release dates: September 6, 1959 (Venice)
Running time: 93 minutes
Country of Origin: Poland
Language: Polish

Overview of the plot: Two strangers, Jerzy (played by Leon Niemczyk) and Marta (played by Lucyna Winnicka), accidentally end up holding tickets for the same sleeping chamber on an overnight train to the Baltic Sea coast. People on the train representing various parts of society populate the train during the journey including priests, a writer, youths and people on a pilgrimage. Also on board is Marta’s spurned lover, who will not leave her alone. When the police enter the train in search of a murderer on the lam, rumours fly and everything seems to point toward one of the main characters as the culprit.

night train

The cinematography in the cabin scenes sometimes uses the bunk bed to obscure parts of the screen, giving a point-of-view angle focused on the speaker’s mouth forcing the audience to not see Jerzy’s eyes as if he is in confessional as an untrustworthy figure and informing the audience to question what he is saying as after all ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’. In mirroring this scene later we have Marta hiding the lower half of her face as she watches the men of the train who have given chase and caught the murderer who had hidden aboard the train earlier. The claustrophobic experience for the characters is reinforced, yet at the same time contrasted in tone, with the overly crowded scenes in the other passenger’s cabins and the corridor of the train where we follow the characters, face on, moving through the crowded corridors of the train as it is in motion and when the passengers are off the train at a stop.

Michael Brooke sums up the underlying sentiment of the film in his essay included with the booklet included with the Second Run DVD:

“Truly, all human life is here, and much turns out to be deeply disconsolate, involuntarily single, unhappily married, desperately lonely.”

Jerzy Kawalerowicz, best known for his film “Mother Joan of the Angels” (1961), is one of Polish cinema’s supreme craftsmen and secular moralists. Often he discusses the existence of a Post-World War 2 Poland where religion is no longer capable of guiding people towards individual happiness, and “Night Train” is no different. It presents us with a large set of characters, all traveling to the Polish seaside for a pilgrimage, and all lacking a sense of purpose. The main narrative focus is on Jerzy (Leon Niemczyk), who boards the train without a booked ticket, expecting to be able to buy from the conductor although this means he has to book an entire cabin to himself. By behaving aloofly, while wearing sunglasses to obscure his eyes/identity, it is almost as if the audience is being challenged not to immediately assume that the gossip we overhear from the other passenger’s at the beginning doesn’t in some way refer to him. The other central character is Marta (Lucyna Winnicka), who unintentionally invades Jerzy’s sleeping compartment and goes from being an unwanted presence to an indispensable, and ultimately almost healing, one though in the end this is cruelly subverted when Jerzy reveals his reasons for boarding the train and his destination which cannot include Marta who is searching for a place in the world for herself after jilting her lover.

pociag kawalerowicz1_6328318

Jerzy and Marta’s strange tryst aboard the train, both occasionally bold and yet furtive, is contrasted and compared with those of the other passengers around them. : With Staszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) who has chased Marta aboard the train in turns begging and demanding her affection; the overt flirtations of a wife (Teresa Szmigielówna) dissatisfied with her marriage who has a lover aboard the train while she flirts with Jerzy and another already existing younger lover; the non-verbal obsession of a young sailor and the girl he sits with and also to an almost folksy budding romantic sense the interactions between the pair of ticket controllers past their prime who patrol the train’s corridors (he’s balding and jovial, she’s plump and officious offering light relief to the more intense interactions between the leads).

Kawalerowicz’s way of presenting the emotional intensity is far from explicit but portrayed via moments as such as Marta’s hair being unexpectedly mussed by a breeze from another train passing, to repeatedly framing Jerzy’s mouth when he speaks to Marta in the cabin so we are forced to focus, as Marta no doubt is doing, on his lips when he speaks to her. The director may be interested in morality and its failings, but he’s by no means blind to his actors’ bodies and the power of body language portraying succinctly what dialogue cannot.

In the beginning, as part of the passenger’s gossip we learn of a recent event: a man who has murdered his wife the previous day and has not been apprehended. This slowly builds into being the core driving motive behind this film’s central theme, echoing Hitchcock’s motif of an unjustly accused man who is forced to prove his innocence. Here we have Jerzy fulfilling this protagonist role. In the isolated yet heavily populated community of the commuters he endures the complete violation of his desire for peace and quiet – first by Marta’s unintentional intrusion and then later when he is exposed to everyone’s judgment, ranging from being called a killer, assumed because he wore sunglasses to hide his identity, to being hailed as the hero of the hour during the film’s denouement.

No sooner is the actual murderer identified than a makeshift posse forms and a chase begins, thus opening what I find the movie’s most stunning sequence. Starting in the train itself and guiding us through all its length (with an eye keen on class and social detail of varying compartments), Kawalerowicz suddenly yanks us outside the vehicle, and the shock is comparable to this experienced by the passengers after one of them pulls the emergency break. The murderer runs through an open field – still covered in early-morning fog – in a hopeless attempt to escape justice. It’s impossible not to perceive him as a victim: when the posse finally gets to him, the confrontation is fierce and Kawalerowicz once again uses the microscopic-overhead camera set-up from the beginning of the film. We see the human dots unified in a centripetal race towards the lying man, and as they cover him with a multitude of blows, the message of the film emerges. Administering someone else’s comeuppance has provided these people with a momentary moral focus, so acutely lacking from their everyday life. For a couple of breathless minutes, good was clearly discernible and evil easy to point out and destroy. But as soon as the moment is over the assembly listlessly return to the confines and structured progress of the train journey.

the seemingly mysterious and evasive passengers, each hoping to find privacy for the duration of their trip, cannot escape the claustrophobia of the environment around them, as Marta’s obsessed, rejected lover, Straszek (Zbigniew Cybulski) follows her aboard the train, and Jerzy’s enigmatic behavior draws the flirtatious attention of a lawyer’s neglected wife (Teresa Szmigielówna) along with the scrutiny of other passengers who begin to who begin to speculate on the identity of the elusive murderer profiled in the late edition newspaper.

Throughout the film, Marta finds herself torn between varying loyalties both to herself and others. The most prominent and undesired one is by her abandoned lover the train-hopping Staszek. Her confusion of her feelings towards him goes hand in hand with her readiness, if not subconscious willingness, to hurt him. She also finds herself drawn towards Jerzy and yet it is only a tentative and ultimately ephemeral infatuation wherein she is discarded as she had once discarded leading her to have an epiphany. She is now in the position she had placed Staszek previously. At the end, she nails it by saying: “Everyone wants to be loved, yet no one’s ready to love.” In realising this she has two choices: either she does as Staszek did and pursue something that doesn’t exist or she lets go and continues her search for something which she has been unable to identify previously and indeed may never realise afterwards.

Ultimately things have happened and people have acted on their beliefs but nothing has changed in the reality of the people’s lives after they leave the train. They return to the rails of their own lives, those of routine, of following order and not finding their own personal morality but conforming to that they find endorsed by the society around them whether it be police boarding the train or a mob chasing a lone man across fields.

The closing pan across the now vacated train as Martha walks towards the beach and many of the passengers either begin their pilgrimage or walk away to their destinations shows us that, even if now messy from its occupants, the train remains to be entered again and these people will eventually find themselves taking this same journey again stuck on the rails of a destiny they feel it is part of their part in society as the pilgrimage is to the religious travellers and the priests. A sense of fatalistic futility, even after capturing the murderer, is all pervasive and nothing has changed outside the enclosed intensified moment in their lives.

9

The director uses acute angle shots, high contrast lighting (to the point I recalled the introduction of Morticia in ‘The Addams Family’ due to the lighting across Marta’s eyes to accentuate them in contrast to the dark framing Jerzy’s mouth gets in contrasting scenes), and narrow, claustrophobic framing within the train carriages. Jerzy Kawalerowicz produces an unnaturally heightened sense of environment and perceptional acuity that reflect the passengers’ subconscious duress and sublimated emotions: the visually occluded, odd angle shot as Jerzy enters the compartment; the birds-eye view of the opening sequence is mirrored by that of the passengers encircling a suspect by an open field graveyard. Here rather than the faceless dots being people choosing to ignore each other as individuals in the transitions they take during their daily lives now find themselves all to willing to wordlessly enter into collusion and act as both judge and executioner of the murderer who tired to escape the consequences of his actions. the successive repeating imagery of mirrored reflections cast against the train carriage’s window, first of the lawyer’s flirtatious wife, then of Marta, which reveal their innate loneliness, confusion, and feelings of abandonment; Straszek’s anxious and rash attempts to gain Marta’s attention and sympathy as though confusion compassion for love. By modulating the innocuous and lighthearted tone of the holiday-bound train trip to show a dark portrayal of base human instincts and the undesirable, selfish, dark aspects of humanity which many choose to ignore. Kawalerowicz further illustrates the often disparaging moral myopia of people, their discrimination, and skewed viewpoints all occurring due to adhering to a collective mentality without question. In the film’s haunting and visually metaphorical denouement, a priest replaces a fallen graveyard cross that had been used as a weapon of violence: a solemn reminder of the human need for compassion and atonement in an environment of fear and vengeance.


So now I will recount the events of the film as i have done before because… who knows what i have noticed but wouldnt have included in a more structured review. As I have to watch it with subtitles on the Second Run DVD it is inevitable the audience is at the whim of the translator’s decisions and if they feel it’s obvious what the character’s names are you don’t get told them when first mentioned but only much later in dramatic moments. That is how it feels watching some foreign films sometimes. In fact I have seen films where the translator gives a nickname to characters instead of their actual name which is just weird and I wish I was joking. I assumed the characters don’t say their names until later in keeping with how secretive they are about their personal lives and reasons for being on the train. It is meant to be a major moment in the film when they share their names with strangers… or I fear the translator think you will have looked through the supplemental material and already be familiar with who is who. I hope not as that has annoyed me with other films as it leads the subtitle viewing audience to assume certain things that don’t exist. Hence during this account everyone is addressed as ‘main guy’, ‘young priest’ and so on.

Of course this is just going to read like rambling but whatever… it gives you my first impression of the film before I watched it again to clarify things.

Conclusions about the film at the bottom.


Opening scene: A crowded train station shot from bird’s eye view. The haunting jazz theme song. The first part is repeated during the film. I want it as a ringtone. This or the whistling tune from the film ‘Twisted Nerve’ (as also heard in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill). The imagery is cold and impersonal but with the jazz theme it becomes sad, the passing of so many lives and yet none of them mean anything more than ants in a colony struggling to survive.

Train sequence 1
Intro of characters
Separate cars for men and women but the main girl is allowed to stay due to a jobs-worth conductor. He lets the main girl stay due to main guys very abrupt asking to drop it.
Train one a young priest and an older one who uses the phrase ‘pro salute animae’ – discuss immorality and punishment. A bit heavy handed a way to introduce the themes of the film so early on…

Young man has history with girl and is chasing her.

Train sequence two – mixed company sailor and a young girl.

Main girl cut her wrists in the past the main guy sees due to her scars. This doesn’t become a point ever again…

The flirting woman. Bullet bra. Very 1950s. Poke someone’s eyes out with those…

Main girl has the haunting theme play when she is alone. Seems to be a one woman wail with no lyrics.

Young guy is hanging off the outside of the train! Keeps threating to derail train/bangs her wrist/threatened to throw himself off the train… (Ironic tragically as the actor would one day die going between moving trains I later found out)

Multiple slaps to the main guy’s face. That is such an old staple of movies. Women slapping men and men standing there stoically allow them to because they are the fairer sex.
Light in main girls face… older films do this but not nowadays. I remember them doing it with Morticia Addams in The Addams Family to emphasise ‘this woman is sexy and had an alluring look’…

Flirt reflects face on night time window. Flirt has a guy so main isn’t her only objective!

Main also reflects face on window.

Young guy has no ticket. Young guy gets to stay on and consider getting a ticket.

A male conductor appears. Again gives a character time to ‘think’ when they are clearly not meant to be on the train. The female conductor returns. They flirt and comment on main and flirt girl being the sort who always holiday in the right season while he has to wait until august (when is the film set during the year? The last scene suggests Summer but this is more of a Spring or an Autumnal scene to me…)

Mirroring seems to be a theme in the film. Main girl/flirt girl. Main/young guy chasing main girl.

The young and the old priest. 83 year old on his last pilgrimage in his own opinion. End of the old ways.

Flirt girl has wordy nerdy guy reciting his speech for the legal court. Is he her husband? Seems so.

Meteorologist/clairvoyant she claims. Men are logical while women enjoy frivolous things. Common theme during this period of history. In fact you could see such a clear gender based contrast present in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Men of logic versus the Queen of the Night and her magics.

Train Stop: An inspection by authorities. They go straight to the main characters’ one. Why? What made it so obviously them? He is taken into custody. Conductor comes along saying he is a murderer. Young guy calls on a sleeping guy called Marek… has no one said names yet? Lead main guy away. Is he murderer or was it just malicious gossip (deadly in this period with paranoid state interests). Passengers chat. Flirt girl says he was odd for not making eye contact. Flighty sort of person the society frowns on. Main guy has no papers. Who is the woman?
Solider, also named, corporal Rosolowski, didn’t check her papers as he wasn’t ordered to. Sailor staring, point blank, at the traveling girl who looks away from him. Is this flirtation or is her intimidating her? They never exchange any words as far as I know.

Main girl goes to young man didn’t want cigarette earlier when offered. Asks for one now and is denied. She goes to holding ca and speaks in his defence. Traveling girl looks at sailor and he smiles. But always main girl passes by distracting him. They go to find the man who sold her the ticket. Everyone crowds the corridors oddly as if aware an even is about to occur. In reality they would have been told to stay in their cabins. Then cars off various people, normal, mixed, young music players and old women on a pilgrimage with a sculpture. Young men all seem to be drifting forward.

The man running away covers a woman’s mouth and smothers her as he climbs to the outside of the train. Her name was Hania we are told. Train is stopped. He runs off the train. The young men give chase. All the men give chase. Flirt comes out of the train in negligee. Suddenly dogs are barking in the distance as if they knew he was going to elope at this point. Swings a branch around and hits a cross when cornered. Young guy tackles his to the ground, then overhead shot of all piling on, then finally drawing back from him remembering he has killed before and even with numbers they’re still individuals who happen to be on the same journey but are not united together. Bald guy kicks him but young guy stops him. Then bald man tears up and walks away. The running away man is dead? Main guy breaks ranks and walks to the corpse. He’s fainted not dead. Police cuff him as he comes back around. Sees cross in the distance. Young guy walks over to it. The main girl is there looking over it as the camera focuses on her fear filled eyes. Flirt insists on drawing closer. Looks at him. He is pitifully looking up and we cut to the main girl’s upper face obscured by the cross before she runs away. Mirroring and contrasting of the main guy earlier where we could only see him mouth. Police lead him away. Everyone goes back. Flirt keeps on at main guy then shifts to another. Last to go is the young priest placing the cross upright again.

Men walk back across the hay bale filled field. Conductor woman didn’t see blonde enter train nor leave it. Let’s blonde on but not young guy as compartments are not locked… so why let her? MARTA he calls. So she finally is named on the subtitles. Were the names of the characters not meant to be known up until now? It would make sense considering the themes and such of the film but I wonder… Flirt’s husband complains and she snaps back. Young priest returns her other shoe. Baldy returns with the bruise to his face and female conductor says nearly left him behind. Young guy is almost left behind as sailor and girl leans out window, writer says would have been good story if the main guy innocent caught the murderer. Flirt flirts.

Then a guy comes out of his cabin making weird sounds shouting ‘you won’t get me’ waving his arms then goes back and bald one enters his too. Random moment in the film making no sense…

Back to cabin 15/16: main is a doctor whose 18 year old suicide girl died on operating table. Had 3 operations and that last one was a failure. Washing his face and hands. Main girl draws close and embraces him with a towel in her hands.

Flirt and her boy toy arrange to meet 5pm tomorrow. Writer sits in the corridor reading again. Female conductor is dozing off. Baldy leaves his cabin. Wont show on wedding day. Will remain batchelor. Flirty flirty flirty. Song plays again as the scenery outside the window blows by. Conductor goes to cabin of white haired guy waking him. And then the others. The writer is slumped over sat in the corridor. Writer can’t believe he fell asleep. The scenery outside the window.

Main girl explains why she got the train. They are both adjusting their clothes. Marta is in focus taking up most of the screen in portrait while main guy is out of focus with his back to the screen in the background. Is it implied they had sex? Having a cigarette always seemed to be the code in black and white films for ‘there was sex but we can’t say that’. Young guy is searching for something. So he isn’t anonymous. ‘The disease of our times’. Used her emotions like a mirror. Searching for a reflection of himself, confirmation of his self esteem.

Marta declares to Jerzy:

‘Nobody wants to love. Everybody wants to be loved’.

People don’t want to expose themselves and risk being hurt but all they desire is to be accepted. So many conform while some take a risk for better or worse. She was happy to be chased by her ex but now finds herself as the one who loves and it pains her to admit this not only to Jerzy but moreso to herself.

The young guy is stood off the train with a backpack of his belongings on. Knows the window of her cabin somehow. Is surprised when the main guy answers. No words are exchanged as the train pulls away. She had moved on. The young girls has also disembarked along with the old women and the priests who lead them in a pilgrimage journey.

It doesn’t matter if ‘he’ will be at the station anymore. She no longer feels she needs to contrast or mirror herself with another in order to have a sense of self.

‘I’m quite alone now but really happy. Very happy’

Marta says this but with a sense of melancholy clear on her features.

Her hair though pinned back is down unlike the central part of the film. The open back of her top… visual language that she is hiding something but in past tense is open. The main guy says his wife is waiting for him on the platform as the train draws into the station.

Someone calls the name Barbara we then see Marta holding onto the top bunk from behind. On her left hand is a wedding ring. Is this intentional? So many revelations and yet no definitive answers. All we have a myriad truths and the final decision of what is true of these events to conclude for ourselves.

The conductor woman says goodbye doctor… they young guys disembark and then the older gentlemen including the bald on eand the writer and grey hair discuss if they had seen yesterday’s paper. They shake the conductor man’s hand. The female conductor looks pensive and goes along the carriage.

Marta is still there. Looking like she had been crying but says she lost her bracelet. Conductor helps her pack. Conductor says ‘what a night. Not one you will forget quickly. At this Marta leans in hugs her and kisses her then leaves. Conductor lets her out on the beach side though others got off the other side. ‘Have a good holiday’ she says but Marta doesn’t reply. She left something on the train. Conductor picks the parcel up and sees Marta walking across the shoreline as a fog horn blows. She walks off screen and we never see her again…

Cabin 18/19 – a young couple, the girl answering the door dishevelled as if only now having woken up. Answers. Janusz, her partner, she wakes up.

Then the camera pans across all the empty cabins. And we see a train pass by 16/17 as the song again repeats and the screen goes black.


Conclusion: You like Hitchcock and European cinema? This is for you. You like the French New Waves? Well apparently the Polish got there first. It’s a taut, compelling, and insightful psychological portrait of emotional need, hysteria, and mob mentality. It is a visually stunning film with great cinematography and really forces the audience to be absorbed into the claustrophobic close quarter environment of the train’s interior and the emotionally invasive intensity of the character’s interactions.

Extras: A short documentary about the film saying that the Polish proto-New Wave preceded the more renowned French New Wave and how it influenced Czech cinema. All the more impressive for being during the socialist realism period as the film never really addresses the reality of the time and so in many ways it quite escapist.

An interview with leading man Leon Niemczyktalk about the technical tricks that were used in the filming process e.g. a train car was purchased and the windows each had a back projected 7 inch screens so that there was the illusion of the windows showing passing scenery outside as the characters walked down the corridor.

It is only a few minute long and an excerpt from ‘my seventeen lives’ but very interesting compared to the sort of ‘trailer’ extras you usually get with older films.

The included essay booklet also helps you better understand the context of the film and its place in the history of European cinema.

I enjoyed it and certainly the theme is truly memorable. I would definitely recommend checking it out and could have easily done a more thorough analysis of the film but I think this is enough for now.

I also found this ’40 years later’ documentary but obviously haven’t a clue what they are saying…


Somehow I have both written far too much and yet not really addressed this film’s true philosophy at the same time…. On the weekend I will finally post the movie review of O slavnosti a hostech a.k.a The Party and The Guests. A 1966 Czech film which was permanantly banned in its country of origin for challenging the existing political system at the time. I may post some more light hearted stuff between now and then… but maybe not… we will see.

Comments, etc, are all welcome.

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Wenglish Post Challenge

So, like, ayes been challenged to write a blog entirely in ‘Wenglish’ innit? There I am minding my own business when suddenly sum-one’s all like ‘Oh go on – writes us a post in Wenglish innit? It be funny like, not like in “being funny” like someone’s ‘aving a pout but like “funny funny” like your ‘avin’ a laff yeh? I turns round to ‘er and I tells ‘er ‘Oh what you think I is? Some sort of bloody wind-up toy munkee is it? I gotta life too you know!’ An’ then she’s all like ‘alright calm down! Well you dunno if you don’ try innit butt?’ So alright then… let’s ‘ave a go an’ see what ‘appens then is it? All off the top of my head this is so don’t give me no jip cuz of it…

What’s Wenglish? English/Welsh dialect innit?

Welsh English, Anglo-Welsh, or Wenglish refers to the dialects of English spoken in Wales by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, there is a variety of accents found across Wales from the Cardiff dialect to that of the South Wales Valleys and to West Wales.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_English

An’ this is a site all bout it too. Blokes made a livin’ out of it n all too: http://talktidy.com/


Day Inna Life Of A Tidy Welsh Bloke As ‘e Sees it In ‘is Own Words An’ All That Like.

Right then, it’s like this it is start of the day. There I was like walking down the road when a bloody great big bugger of a ‘roid ‘ead comes stropping towards me all casual givin’ me a funny look.
‘oh’ I said ‘oo you think you is butt?’ an’ ‘e was all ‘Nun a your fuhkin’ bizniz oo aye am you smelly dick. You startin’ sumfing? You need to man up you header! Don’t you even fuckin’ try it mate! End of!’
‘Oi mun!’ I shout, ‘Pissy pants, come over here you cocky little shit’ I said, ‘cuz you don’t come round ‘ere flapping your chops like that an’ get away with it I can tell you that now!’
He starts walkin’ away like ‘e owns the place! Cheeky fuhk…
‘Oi’ I said ‘you’re not down Llanelli here now butt, we’re not all slappers, piss-‘eads and roiders all on the dole round ‘ere like you. ‘This ‘eres Brid-end like’, I warned ‘im, ‘You got to take responsibility for what you just gone and said to me!’
Well ‘e didn’t like it did ‘e? Didn’t like it at all…
So there was a ruck course and a few cheeky slaps but in the end I gave ‘im a good hidin’. An’, I’m not lying, that bast’add was built like a brick shit house but I could ‘ave ‘im cuz roiders are all trouser no balls. Fuhkin’ roider I tell you…
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a police bloke comes running down the road shoutin’ at us ‘Oh! Oh! The fucks goin’ on ‘ere then boys?!’
We both dun a runner like and that was that.

Next thing I’m over by the Rec an’, no joke, I’m lookin’ at the river when a bloody fuckin’ old slag bollock naked of all things comes out the pissin’water! What the fuhks she doin’ there like I ask myself?
‘Oh luv’, I shout at ‘er, ‘put your bloody tits away for God’s sakes! No one wants ta see tha’!’
Well, she just looked at me with a face like a slapped arse don’t she?
‘Oh luv I don’t care if you duss put your bra on one cup at a time like the rest of us!’ I tells ‘er, ‘I’m not being funny… but you’re a bloody state luv, look at yerself!”
Then you know what the bint bloody went and did? You know she just ups and pisses off like she got a rocket up ‘er arse runnin’ stark bloody naked into tha bushes an’ disappears and I’m left stood there like a bloody lemon an’ ‘aven’t a clue what the fuhk waz goin’ on just now… it waz random like no lie…

Then later I’m out in the night and some fat bint waddles ova ta me pissed out of ‘er brains and is all like ‘oh let’s ‘ave a cwtch is it luvly?’
‘Oh piss off’, I sez, I gotta missus an’ you look like shit to be honest‘.
‘But you knows ahm funkin’ gwjuss an up for it’ ‘n’ like it don’t matter if she dunno cuz it’s only a bit of fun like’
‘Christ almighty’ some bloke passing sez before he goes chuckin’ ‘is guts up after lookin’ at ‘er, ‘she looks ruff as fuhkin’ ‘ell there butt’.
So then she’s tryin’ to lead me round sum dark corner round tha back o tha pub furra shag and aye makes my excuses there an’ then like don’t i? I tells ‘er ‘Oh yeh you goes right ahead, gotta go take a piss a sec be there right now in a minute.
Well I won’t lie it’s not like it’s the first time that day is it I ‘ad to do a runner? I’m not twp. Wouldn’t even have touched ‘er with a barge pole if I ‘ad to double bag it you know what I means like? Dirty she was.

Was a right laff when I told the boys after.

Then I gets home completely blotto and hasta hav’ a kip obvs like. Ruff as fuhk I was the next morning, no lie, so aye ‘as another nap after I gone makin’ myself a chip buttie. Prawpa bluddy luvly it was ‘n’ all. Then the boys cum round half three an’ we’re watchin’ the rugby like cuz like it’s Sunday… an tha’s what you dus on a Sunday innit? Not’ing else to do then is there? So we all piss off down the local pub for a couple. Bloody packed in there it was… like sardines we was. Brilliant bit of atmosphere an’…fuhkin’ ‘ell… I tell you now, the way those boys ‘andled the ball you’d think it was a babe fresh baked out their missus’ downstairs honest! ‘Come on lads’ we’re shoutin’ at the screen, cuz you ‘ave to don’t you? Give ‘em a bit of encouragement! No lie, think one of the boys started wellin’ up, it was such a bute of a game, the soppy bugger, but then you knows the women aint watchin’ for the game like but just so they can imagine wrappin’ themselves round those boys thighs innit? Filthy cows… Getting’ down ‘n’ dirty with them an’ wannabe rugger versions of those bloody footy WAGs that ar’ always in da papers. Dirty slappers gittin’ moist just standin’ there while serious business is goin’ on on the pitch on the tele… Might scrub up tidy but they got another thing comin’ if they think they got a chance with the lads there tho. Even if they did they’d be in for a shock. Thighs like tree trunks, cocks like pencils, is what I ‘ear… not that I ever want to know stuff like that but you know what with banter ‘n’ goss n all tha’ you find out these things don’t you? Happy days like it was.

But that’s enough o’ tha now innit? Can’t chops all day cuz aye got other things to be doing course. Can’t be helped.


So That’s that then. Not me sayin’ it like just some made up character ‘n’ that. Pwper tidy bloke ‘e is ‘n’ all.

“Oh, where’s the reviews of these films then you keep promising? You keep on about them like a nag all the time an’ ‘aven’t shown nuthin’ for it…”

Calm down for God’s sakes mun! It’s bluddy cummin’ just hold your horses and wait a second it’ll be here in a minute…

Oh yeh and befores I forgets here’s wassaface who sed ava go doin’ this Wenlgish post.

https://annawwalii.wordpress.com/ – Which is all in Polish and kept up to date and then you got https://annainwales.wordpress.com/ which is all in English but she don’t keep that last one up to date cuz “effort” she sez ‘n’ all that. Needs to get a grip ‘n’ sort herself out sharpish mun! Got one post from 13 November 2013 where she posted a part one and there’s still no part two to it all this time later now! Got two blogs ‘n’ all she has! The greedy bugger… an’ there’s even more she got like a Polish language ‘travel guide to Welsh places’ http://walijskiewedrowanie.wordpress.com/ and a photography site and… and… well… it’s just takin’ the piss now isn’t it? But there you goes… that should be more than enough of a plug for her stuff now. Cheeky mare…

Only jokin’ like! Got to laff ‘aven’t you? Life wouldn’t be worth livin’ if you didn’ yeh? It’s Welsh humour like, bit of banter (whether you like or not)… not a good un if you don’t take it on the chin and ‘ave a laff at ‘urself… but yeh like I waz sayin’ got go sort out those film blog entries and post them in the next few days. Honest…

Питер FM (Piter FM/Peter FM): 2006 Russian Film: Commentary and Review

So you were expecting ‘Pociąg’ or ‘O slavnosti a hostech’? On the weekend they will be done and posted a few days apart. Instead here is a running commentary about a Russian film I saw. Not a formal review but a running commentary about the film with time stamps of when the events occur and my view of them. It’s just rambling but then look at the name of the blog.

Piter FM is a 2006 Russian comedy romance film directed by Oksana Bychkova and starring Ekaterina Fedulova, Evgeniy Tsyganov and Aleksey Barabash. The plot revolves around the serendipitous and unexpected romance between a young man and a young woman living in post-Soviet St. Petersburg.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piter_FM

Starring:
Ekaterina Fedulova as Masha
Evgeniy Tsyganov as Maksim
Aleksey Barabash as Kostya
Irina Rakhmanova as Lera
Natalya Reva-Ryadinskaya as Marina
Oleg Dolin as Fedor
Evgeniy Kulakov as Vitya

Trailer:

The subtitles, as the version I watched admitted, are a bit off but are understandable. But what version did I watch you ask? Good question. I don’t remember. There is no official release of this film with English subtitles so it is what it is. I saw the film a while ago and these are old notes I made when watching it with the intention of doing a review but this is more like a running commentary which should be more or less in line with whatever version you end up watching.

The opening sequence: The fast flowing cuts around the buildings remind me of sequences in Japanese television shows where they pan around a person at Dutch angles to make something seem impressive but because it is done at such an oddly specific constant speed it comes across as… exceptionally artificial is the only way I can describe it. I dislike the effect. It is like a cat looking up at you while it’s sat on a toy train track set.

The radio station’s jingle: I see… so radio jingles for local radio stations really are universally cheesy then!

4.40 – The radio studio girl, Lera, has exceptionally short blonde hair. I never find it is a good look for women unless they have very, very, fine features like Audrey Hepburn. Felix looks out of place in how he dresses as if he was at home. Also his shirt has ‘by eck’ on it which is a very Yorkshireman thing for someone to say but the image is of a female superhero from an American comic… it’s just a weird dissonance to me.

6.25 – The turtle pet is random… is it meant to be this film’s mascot? Masha’s top is odd too. It’s like a tabard that wants to be a tank top…

I get the impression this film will be one of those ‘like boats in the night’ ones like ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ or ‘While You Were Sleeping’ were no real romance occurs though we are informed in the advertising it is a romantic film.

9.50 – A convenience to set up the plot. He has her phone and he has hers now… ‘with hilarious results’ as the pitch meeting for the film no doubt went. Things wouldn’t work like this in real life. You would call, meet and exchange. If you couldn’t see the person you would ring the phone and see who answers.

… then suddenly I have a flashback to primary school remembering when some homework got blown out of my hand and I dropped my Pepsi can shaped pencil case to go get it. When I returned my pencil case was gone. A girl kept saying she picked it up and would return it to me everytime I saw her walking home. She never did. Evil little thief…

Masha’s finance, Kostyk/Kostya, is either going to be a designated a villain by default or will be a nasty person… oh he had a bit of an issue with her getting a phone call to return her phone. So apparently he will be a jealous kind then… oh so he also has no time to be with her as he is busy with work… ticking quite a few boxes for the ‘designated bad guy’ boyfriend here when in real life these are real issues that people try to work through together… or maybe they don’t. Maybe I am an idealist every once in a while and would like to think people work together to resolve issues rather than find fleeting happiness elsewhere.
13.16 – Quite amusing the guy gets the impression he is a womaniser.
15.56 – A cross dresser? Tatyana Petrovna. Street cleaner guy is random…
18.36 – Would a woman really walk down the road with massive curlers in her hair? Oddly camp greasy haired suit wearing guy…
19.07 – A fat cat being taken out for a walk. I am sure the St Petersburg tourist board were very happy with this oddball portrayal of the city’s inhabitants…
21.03 – A bro fist pump between the protagonist and the guy dressed just like him… too many coincidences. The protagonists keep making eye contact just to enforce how close they get to each other but fate keeps them apart… I like the statue (bust on a column) he is stood by. I assume it is an aeroplane pilot for the early twentieth century.
23.20 – Impressive graveyard. Random guy with guitar. Random car alarm. Stolen road sign. Random moments. He has a girlfriend? Well this is one of those awkwardly immoral films isn’t it? Flirtatious ‘true love’ wins over fidelity in romantic cinema. Partners too busy right now to have time together, because they are building towards a future together with their partner, are set aside for the flames of passion.
26.10 – I made you dinner. I don’t want it. And the bit with Maksim which I didn’t really follow except they have different schedules of work and she waited for him but he’s not into it… So this is our romantic lead is it? A sort of latter day Byronic hero, but without the smouldering brooding charm and sense of morality, just the unremitting antisocial aspects left in.
27.00 – Known him most of her life. Wants something new. There’s no real reason for the leads to abandon their relationships aside from boredom it seems so far. The director really likes Dutch angles. Nice panning shot out of the window and down the river however.
30.21 – Seems she wants emotional infidelity. I just don’t connect with these characters it seems. Young professionals bored with their success wanting change. Oooh nice reflection in the silver tray moment there!
32.30 – Contrasting her overly orderly home with his very messy apartment. Nice contrast. I take it she lives in the nice area and he lives in the more run down part of the city? This is common in romance… makes the man seem more rugged and hard working.
34.10 – Tramp man looking in the rubbish? Just to show he threw out photos? Then he goes back for them? … So I assume that sets up that he is…
35.30 – Oh the boyfriend is called Kostya. I need to not follow the subtitles so much as it’s a common issue they just don’t bother with character names assuming you realise which bits of dialogue are names and which bits are words…
36.10 – The young couple singing = ‘this is what love should be like!’ moment… again the whole ‘idyllic love’ that romance comedies like is in full force here.
37.00 – a running musical sequence? AND AGAIN THEY CROSS PATHS IN SO MANY DAYS! But it is interesting for me to see the city scape usually ignored in tourism information. A random Indian style parade… random kid calls random the leading lady Cinderella… it wouldn’t happen. Just setting up she is the pretty young protagonist.
38.00 Sandals wearing random guy asking for a number. Well I suppose you have to take a chance to know if it could ever happen although part of me thinks is this ‘is a cameo by a famous actor?’ as it’s featured prominently in the trailer for the film. Then the old woman… oh she is a beggar trying to swindle money with a classic con.
40.00 He asks the mascot?! Why did she go in the telephone kiosk to use her mobile? More importantly why not just call him once she was there? Convenience for the plot. Who would give flowers to a stall-holder? Is that meant to be endearing?

43.00 Dima – climbing the building?! And has those ‘geeks wear glasses making their eyes look massive’ spectacles. One scene character who adds nothing to the film.
44.00 – Nice look at some architecture. Bumps a cyclist. Might have well asked if she was Masha just out of curiosity by this point. Oh the young couple again! Good I was worried they were a one scene thing but if it runs throughout as a contrast I don’t mind that. Bit weird to invite him in though. Music is nice throughout this film. Quite light beat.
47.00 – Who are they? Random people turning up. Oh the landlord and lady. I should have figured that out as the woman is ‘comically’ bigger than her husband. They are just a plot device to drive him into more immediate action.
49 – Calling out to him over the waves. I am sure I saw an American film with this idea. It was ‘You’ve Got Mail‘ or ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ I think.. Different method but similar ‘missing each other walking past’ idea.
50.15 – He is at the Petrograd police station? Why are there red lit hookers behind him? Oh they are in a prison cell. But for a moment they looked demonic. Oh and she calls him her fiancé… and the officer waters a plant…
51.45 – Pitr then rapid rewind of city events. Then a Kevin Spacey looking senior police officer/general. Oddly I can imagine Bridgend’s chief executive having a map of Bridgend similar to the general’s one in his office. Oh he is related to Maksim. That’s convenient.
53.20 – The teacher and his student. I always want there to be some sort of odd cross over in these sorts of moments. Characters, in their own films, having the same scene in both films but from their distinctly separate perspectives, as if to say the events are going on simultaneously. I would just find it a really funny sort of ‘the directors universe’ sort of idea like Tarantino and Kevin Smith sort of do with their films. Obviously I would have liked Vitalik to turn up in this scene now imprisoned for his affair with Kristina in ‘Неадекватные Люди / Inadequate People / Oddballs’ but obviously that film was made long after this one by different people.
53.50 – oh was that Masha’s boyfriend overcompensating with flowers? That was a good ‘crossing of paths’ moment so it’s not just the protagonists doing this.
55.00 Oh they are speaking informally to each other if you listen to their use of language… I assume this film takes place over only a few days though so that’s a bit suprising.
56.00 – Protagonist confronted with her own feelings by a caller. She runs an advice show. Reminds me of ‘The Problem with Cats and Dogs‘ in that regard.
56.50 – so Felix is meant to be a comedy character? Face on dart board and all that. Oh but he forces her to say things she doesn’t believe and threatens her job. So he is a comedic looking villain.
58.20 – they were fighting? Oh and she smokes. You wouldn’t see the protagonists smoking in Western romance comedies… well maybe you would in the 90s with Richard Curtis’ films but not now. Odd segway with the blonde girl and whistling. Should have just let the Masha drama scene play out. Nice imagery of the grinding/arc wielding behind him then blocked to illustrate his feelings. Actually quite a skilled bit of imagery there i am impressed! While she has red lights saying stop except when she tries to approach him and the wielder is on her side now. A visually impressive scene.
1.02 – Then more fast cuts in the party. With a disco ball headed man. And a guy with a weird beard. It’s all oddly early 1990s Brit flick looking to me here. Marina isn’t present again after that one scene as far as I remember. At least we learn a bit about him though and his falling in love too easily tendencies. Although just like Kostya he has a temper. Then we cut to a scene of Masha crying… good juxtaposing but then a guy in his underwear on a park bench locked out by his wife.
1.07 – oh come on! This is ridiculous they keep crossing paths this much without comment even if we assume city folk dont speak to each other. Nice taxi driving at night with the lights of the city flashing by sequence. Is she wearing a dress then? It just looks like a fitted long shirt… wait how was water splashing up on the mirror? Then cut to a nice silhouette of him crossing a bridge. And back to her smoking hanging out the window with a blanket around her.

... Wait is this actually considered a romantic film? One hour and nine minutes in and nothings really happened.

He sits hanging off the bridge. FALL IN! Is he sat on the bridge outside her place? That would have been a good bit though obviously she would be able to tell it was him as I doubt many people go sitting on bridges in such a way.

The films more about her not being in love and Maksim just seems to be… there in parallel to her. When did he mention houses to her? I don’t get the exchange at 1hour 12mins about flipping the coin to Fontanka and the Neva river. Nor the targeting the Chikik bird. I assume I am just misunderstanding it and the bird is the coat of arms. Only now he recognises her voice?! More quick cutting but in reverse. Maybe it has to be filmed in the opposite direction it should happen and so they got lazy and just did it the easy ‘in reverse’ way.

1.14 – contract discussions. Very romantic. Oh he is quitting the contract…but still.
1.15 – They are sunbathing out the window with tinfoil. I have seen odder behaviour if I’m honest…
1.16 – Shaky camera with his friends is the most idyllic romantic scene in this film so far.
1.16 – See through clothing is always odd to me. It’s meant to cover but with see through vinyl like that any kind of design is just pointless. I like the sequence with everyone in the rain though. Why is he hanging out… do Romani get viewed as street tramps? Then she does the ‘shower in the rain happily’ motion for no reason (except maybe for the films trailer as it’s a romantic film cliché).
1.18 – he is very well kept for someone living on the streets. OH HE DROPPED THE PHONE which was expected. I don’t watch these sorts of films intentionally but there we go. NOOOOOO don’t walk past each other. They obviously recognise each other by now even if not as their intended romantic partner…
1.20 – I guess he calls to contact the girl and dun dun durrr in fact contacts her direct. Intentionally or accidentally? It ends on a similar ‘and so their story began’ note as some other films I have seen…

The film ends with a black screen with the phrase (in Russian Cyrillic obviously) ‘Dedicated to our parents’… It seems a bit random to give such a dedication at the end of the film immediately as these are usually reserved for the end of the credits… is it to honour previous generations without whom none of us would be alive without their love for each other? I just don’t get why it was included right at the end of the main feature.

Actually the outtakes during the credits are fun. Did a police officer really just walk into frame to ask them about their filming!? Staff turning around with their phones is amusing. I like seeing out takes sometimes. I don’t like the outtakes during the credits you see in recent American comedies where they try out different lines as it seems forced (then a gain I have not been a fan of recent American comedies anyway at it seems they are enjoying making the films more than the audience watching the finished article and so often the DVD commentaries are better than the actual film which is ridiculous when you consider it in perspective.)

End verdict: Light hearted piece of fluff. Reminded me of ‘One Fine Day‘ or ‘Sleepless In Seattle’. I didn’t really engage with the characters but at the same time didn’t hate them. The support characters were one dimensional and in fact the young couple in love who have no real lines during the film as background characters made more of an impact than Masha’s co-worker or Maksim’s friends. I Watched it as I assumed it would show quite a wide range of St Petersburg which I haven’t been able to see in more historically based works (e.g. Russian Ark which focused exclusively on the Hermitage) and wasn’t let down in that respect as it showed a number of the normal streets. Would i watch this again? Not really if I’m honest but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it to someone if they wanted to see a Russian film but obviously so far ‘Odd Balls‘, ‘Russian Ark‘ and for fantasy ‘Daywatch’/’Nightwatch’ are the ones I would recommend. ‘Oddballs‘ above all else as I think there is some really good potential there which the director of ‘Nightwatch‘ has done big budget Hollywood films and his use of CGI is a bit too obvious and distracting though admittedly his aim is for over the top action sequences as he has the budget for them.

Pitr FM was okay if not slightly mediocre all things considered although the sound track was quite nice. If you want a good Russian romantic comedy film go watch ‘Неадекватные Люди / Inadequate People / Oddballs‘. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Movie Reviews: Short reviews of films that have been on television recently

So over the holiday season I have watched a few films on television. Some of them are well known and some are not. Don’t expect anything in depth as these are purely brief opinion pieces i.e. I have nothing better to post right now.


Up (2009)

Was you favourite part when there is the non-dialogue musical section about Carl and Ellie’s married life together growing old, suffering the news they cannot have children and her passing away? Was it the bit when they reprise the ‘Married Life’ musical piece as Carl opens the adventure book and finds Ellie left him one last message thanking him for all the adventures and telling him to go have a new one?
No?
You are lying!Those parts were far and away in a totally different league to the rest of the film!
To be honest once they realised the ‘married life’ backstory part worked better with no dialogue they should have just accepted they made something far better than the main part of the film and found a way to do the backstory segment a different way and have the ‘married life’ part be its own small feature. You can like Dug as a character but that is as far as I can allow. Ironically they ruined their own film by making a timeless moment with the ‘married life’ segment which leaves the rest of the film pale in comparison.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_%282009_film%29

The Dark (2006)

AKA Sean Bean and his American wife with their daughter go live in rural Wales where ghosts cause them trouble. It would be a good film if it wasn’t for the fact I know about the Welsh mythology they allude to while mixing it with a heretical chapel community who committed a suicide pact together. Annwn isn’t the odd cold, blue, windy place they depict but a sort of Valhalla without the need to go fighting, a world of delights and eternal youth where disease was absent and food was ever-abundant. A film of tepid Welsh caricatures and tepid supernatural thriller. It’s okay to watch if you are unfamiliar with Welsh mythology but otherwise it seems very poorly intended despite being based on a novel… a novel called ‘Sheep’… because… you know… Wales… Sheep… Stereotypes. I have watched it a few times thinking maybe I have missed something as they leave any spoken Welsh untranslated at the start but no… no apparently it’s just not that well thought out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_%28film%29

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
Excellent fun adventure film and enjoy it whenever I see it. The motion capture is well done though the faces are in that strange uncanny valley area of features. It amalgamates a few Tintin stories to make its own thing. I would have liked it if they had stayed true to Herge’s original ‘dot eye’ look personally. Andy Serkis as ever proves he is the go to man for ‘ink suit’ acting. I wish they had made a sequel so we could see Professor Calculus. Thompson and Thomson steal every scene they are in due to Pegg and Frost. Admittedly the albums/graphic novels have more space to develop the storylines.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Tintin_%28film%29

Hunky Dory (2011/2012)
Set in Swansea. So yes Minnie Driver ‘acting Welsh’ and seeing actors still doing the rounds on Welsh Language television and SkyOne’s Stella is odd. A 1976 comprehensive school does a version of Shakespeare’s Tempest with David Bowie music following the trials and tribulations of all involved. It is a period drama piece and I wasn’t fussed on it. Then again I have a very awkward response to Welsh period drama set in the late twentieth century but it did come across as quite flat despite flashes of potential occasionally. The director also did ‘Patagonia’.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunky_Dory_%28film%29

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)
I had wanted to see this for a while but never got around to it. A very fun anachronistic film I would happily see again. It is a stop motion film done by Aardman animation so you know its good stuff and you won’t catch every bit of humour in a scene the first time you watch it. Queen Victoria steals the film as far as I am concerned although all the characters are well done. Apparently based on the first of a series of books so it would be nice to think one day they will go on and adapt others from the series. I would actually go out of my way to see it again if it comes on television again soon it was that enjoyable.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pirates!_In_an_Adventure_with_Scientists!

The Wolverine (2013)
A film that didn’t need to be made. More to the point it ends with some things unresolved like his adamantium claws being sliced off but I’m guessing by ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ this is never addressed how they became adamantium laced again… They hired a slightly less attractive actress to make the love interest actress look better in comparison. The ‘bow and arrow’ guy I was never clear if he was meant to be Mariko’s dedicated protector or a loyal servant of the family and thus more of an anti-hero. He was eye candy for the ladies so I guess it doesn’t matter. The reveal of who the silver samurai is isn’t a surprise although the de-aging bit was silly. Dr Green is just a very odd ‘obvious villain’ character who is never really given any characterisation beyond ‘obviously evil’. In fact no one gets much to work with in this film in terms of their characters and it shows. I will never willingly watch this film again unless I need to sleep.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolverine_%28film%29

Puss In Boots (2011)
Puss In Boots stars in a film with humour on the level of Shrek the Third. It’s fun but unfortunately Shrek 2 kind of ruined it for the later films due to its multifaceted cultural references giving adults and children an equally enjoyable film and expecting the later ones to follow suit. Humpty Dumpty I wasn’t too sure about but in the end I think he was a very good character albeit the ‘he was a golden egg/good egg all along’ part was a bit too contrived. There is a lot of Mexican/Spanish style music and it really keeps the film at a strong energetic tempo. Also just after this they showed the short ‘The Three Diablos’ which was okay but should have either been a bit longer or tightened up a bit as it felt a bit ungainly in its story progression.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puss_in_Boots_%282011_film%29

Men In Black III (2012)
As good as the first one if not a little better in some respects depending on what you like. Josh Brolin does a brilliant impression of Tommy Lee Jones playing the younger version of the character. Emma Thompson and Jermaine Clement are both excellent and should have been in the film more. However Griffin, played by Micheal Stuhlbarg, steals every scene he is in. The inclusion of interesting alien characters was what was missing from the second film where they confused ‘weird and a set up for some puns’ with interesting as you actually care what happens to the characters here. I wouldn’t mind seeing this on television again one day.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_in_Black_3

Nativity! (2009)
As a stand-alone film this would have been a cheap and cheerful bit of fluff quickly forgotten. How it has had sequels I have no idea as there only seemed enough there to just barely make one film let alone more. It was okay to watch once but I will never watch it again even if there is nothing else on.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity!_%28film%29

Mary Poppins (1964)
Classic film. Dick Van Dyke and his dodgy cockney accent. Good stuff. Tarnished in my mind by ‘Saving Mr Banks’ and knowing P. L. Travers wasn’t happy with what they did with her character. It is never nice to find the original creator is unhappy with an adaption of their work. Personally I think they should take a view that it is an adaption and doesn’t change their own work but as we all know sometimes, if not more often, it is the adaptions people know and not the original upon which they are based.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Poppins_%28film%29

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
A film for those who would like something like Mary Poppins but don’t want to watch Mary Poppins again i.e. Disney live action mixed with ‘in animation land’ sequences. I never really ‘got’ this one personally. I think because the character basically go running around stealing a king’s pendant and having an element of ‘the protagonists are in the right always’ even when being thieves. Also the setting lends itself to ‘stiff upper lip’ English stereotypes which when the film was made in 1964 must have already seemed a very old fashioned idea already. I think this was one of the films in my childhood that made me always identify with the villain rather than the protagonists. Also the villain is named Astaroth just like the demon which I found surprising in a Disney film considering that in Fantasia they changed the name of the devil/Lucifer in the ‘Night On Bald Mountain’ section to that of the ancient Slavic mythological deity Chernobog… because… you know… Eastern Europe = Communism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedknobs_and_Broomsticks

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
DC animation film. It’s basically about Super-girl arriving on earth, being trained by Wonder Woman, kidnapped and brainwashed by Darkseid and then returned home. They obviously didn’t think people would buy it if they admitted that. It’s okay but quite generically comic book story wise. Watch it once if you are interested but there is nothing there to draw you back ever again. A very generic comic book story… in fact shockingly so to the point you could imagine it being a satire. The one good bit is when they think everything is resolved then Darkseid appears out of Ma and Pa Kent’s house and there is a massive battle. In the aftermath Ma and Pa return to find their home decimated and Clark introduces his cousin. I’ve ruined the best bit but to honest it was quite boring even if it was only about an hour long.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman/Batman:_Apocalypse

Megamind (2010)
Dreamworks always tend to be a very hit or miss affair with more ‘fails’ than successes in my mind. Megamind is one of the few I feel actually works as it stays true to its subverting of superhero films although it brings nothing new to the table. There is good interaction between the characters and I feel that they could easily have made some interesting continuations with the story if they had wanted. I always think it is George Clooney and not Brad Pitt doing Metro-Man’s voice. Jonah Hill voices Hal Stewart/Tighten and ironically life imitates art is seems as he has more and more come across like an asshole in recent times with his ‘suck my dick faggot’ comment amongst other things.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megamind

Конец Санкт-Петербурга (Konets Sankt-Peterburga) / The End Of St. Petersburg (1927)
Silent black and White film made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. Worth watching, very intense visuals and performances. As a film made during the early Soviet era about a key period in its beginnings it is of course propagandist but you should check it out if you have even a passing interesting in the history or cinema.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_St._Petersburg

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
AKA the one where Bond marries at the end and she gets gunned down in a drive by shooting by Blofeld and his henchwoman. If nothing else that makes sure I could never think of this as ‘the bad Bond film’ as many insisted it was for years due to George Lazenby being the ‘Milk Tray’ man. The death however is foreshadowed far too heavily by how many times they said the phrase ‘we have all the time in the world’ even to the point of having it as the last line in the film but mostly its reiterated by how often the song reoccurred during the film. There’s a room of women from different nations as Blofeld’s ‘angels of death’. This was the ‘worst’ Bond film apparently for a long time but I actually enjoyed it albeit there are far better ones but if you take this one with a pinch of salt it is really enjoyable and at least breaks the mould of the 007 series up a bit as it’s not as by the book as some others. For me personally Quantum of Solace is the worst one.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Her_Majesty%27s_Secret_Service_%28film%29

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Jones_and_the_Kingdom_of_the_Crystal_Skull

Basically its a rehash of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The villains who are generic villains but this time Soviet Communists instead of Nazis are after a mythological item… lots of call backs… Cate Blanhett doing a hammy Hollywood Ukranian accent… substitute Nazi occultism for Soviet ESP experimentation… adventures… rocket cart… survive nuclear blast in a fridge… strongman villain with little no dialogue killed in a gruesome way… someone talking in riddles… treacherous colleagues… fantastical resolution EXCEPT THIS TIME IT WAS ALIENS NOT MAGIC! …as M Night Shamalan would say ‘What a twist!’…or to be correct as Ox says in the denoument they are interdimensional beings not ‘alien’ aliens so yet a further twist! ‘knowledge was their treasure’ they conclude in the end… I hope you feel the same way now you’ve read these mini reviews.


So the next two posts will be regarding films I have on DVD. They will hopefully be uploaded later this week… hopefully.
O slavnosti a hostech / A Report on the Party and the Guests / The Party and The Guests. (1966) Czech
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Report_on_the_Party_and_the_Guests

Pociąg / Night Train / Baltic Express (1959) Polish
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Train_%281959_film%29

A Working Homunculus Heart

I walked to work in the early morning and the air seemed to be on fire burning my nostrils with every breath made visible by expelled water vapour. I can still taste the dull mint of the toothpaste from twenty minutes ago as the ground beneath me seems to ripple, on the verge of perception, undulating beneath the frost of mid-Winter. I arrive at work and hear no one speaking while we wait to be let in. I feel my homunculus heart sink. I touch the machine switching it on and the static electricity stings me as it has done every day but I do not react.

Our marionette minds are not taxed by the labour. It is a simple, repetitive, task and in the dying days of this year it is only we who are expected to work though there is no urgency in the completion of our task. They are, however, more than willing to find us more to do so we are not ‘just sitting there twiddling our thumbs’ vacantly.

I recall being unemployed years ago and being told I should not pursue a job in publishing or any creative industry even as behind-the-scenes office staff. I was told this by an advisor in a government funded recruitment agency who would soon be fired but regain his job when the company that won the contact subcontracted it to their failing predecessors. It was two years later I finally got a job having to live with that comment. My heart was replaced by this homunculus sometime back then.

I do not work the whole day. I leave after six hours though I am told we can do just five in order to get a full day’s pay. It is the only act of defiance I can muster without cutting the red strings that bind me to this society down the road.

I had once been skilled in drawing but, with time preoccupied fulfilling others agendas for low pay, I found I had no time to do this and my marionette mind was enslaved by the puppet masters whose lives are their careers. I attempt to doodle occasionally but find where once there was scale and texture there is only a caricature line art not even worthy of being crossed out. My mind is plagued by the demons and dark thoughts accumulated through the passage of time. Nothing is done once work is finished. I lie rotting on the floor sheathed in the blue glow of the television in power saving mode as it rests.

I feel nothing. I care for nothing.

I am not living but merely existing nowadays.I am not human. I am not even humane. I am a homunculus.

A little man made less by society’s demands.

My homunculus heart is incomplete.

And yet it moves.


There is a PS2 game called ‘Haunting Ground‘ (‘Demento‘ in Japan) and a character in it called Daniella who is an artificially created servant (everyone else seems to be some sort of homunculus made by the alchemist, Lorenzo, so I assume she is too) who goes crazy and chases the main character around as the second stalker ‘boss’ of the ‘Clock Tower’ style game (Which it was initially going to be part of the series of before being made a stand alone title). It’s based on the sort of Gothic Romanticism in novels written by Anne Radcliffe (1764 – 1823) amongst others. Long story short the alchemist, Lorenzo, has kept himself alive via cloning/homunculus creation and wants to be reborn in the womb of the main Character Fiona. (Who he kidnapped and is his last living descendant so there is a bit of a creepy incest aspect to it too in thhe grand tradition of Gothic literature). In one of the bad endings one of his clones, Riccardo actually achieves it and you see Fiona sat docile in a chair about 8 months pregnant having apparently lost her will to resist…

People really liked the character of Daniella as a sort of tragic villian because although she was insane and trying to kill Fiona it was Lorenzo’s fault due to her maltreatment in his service by Riccardo. Unfortunately I can’t find a comprehensive video of all the scenes of dialogue but this one has a few of the key ones before Daniella starts chasing the main character around the castle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nkhy16_zsAQ

Oddly I have watched play throughs of it a few times but never played it myself. Sometimes I feel the urge to get an old copy and do so but I just don’t have time.

… and that is what inspired this vignette as silly as it may seem.

What is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses or employers, in the United Kingdom, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other former British colonies. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. Due to the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, the day is known as St. Stephen’s Day to Catholics, and in Italy, Finland along with Alsace and Moselle in France. It is also known as both St. Stephen’s Day and the Day of the Wren or Wren’s Day in Ireland. In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.

Various competing theories for the origins of the term boxing day circulate in popular culture, none of which is definitive. However, the Oxford English Dictionary gives the earliest attestations of the term as being from England in the 1830s, defining it as

The first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box.

The term Christmas-box, meanwhile, dates back to the seventeenth century, and amongst other things meant

A present or gratuity given at Christmas: in Great Britain, usually confined to gratuities given to those who are supposed to have a vague claim upon the donor for services rendered to him as one of the general public by whom they are employed and paid, or as a customer of their legal employer; the undefined theory being that as they have done offices for this person, for which he has not directly paid them, some direct acknowledgement is becoming at Christmas.

The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

In the UK, Canada, and some states of Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in America). Boxing Day sales are common in Canada. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest amount of returns. In the UK in 2009 it was estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appeared at the sales (a rise of almost 20% compared to 2008, although this was also affected by the fact that the VAT was about to revert to 17.5% from 1 January, following the temporary reduction to 15%).

Many retailers open very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long queues to form early in the morning of 26 December, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers. Many stores have a limited quantity of big draw or deeply discounted items. Because of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, many choose to stay home and avoid the hectic shopping experience. The local media often cover the event, mentioning how early the shoppers began queuing up, providing video of shoppers queuing and later leaving with their purchased items. Many retailers have implemented practices aimed at managing large numbers of shoppers. They may limit entrances, restrict the number of patrons in a store at a time, provide tickets to people at the head of the queue to guarantee them a hot ticket item or canvass queued-up shoppers to inform them of inventory limitations.

… and now you know.

Merry Christmas in a few languages

English: Merry Christmas

Welsh: Nadolig Llawen

Russian: Счастливого Pождества! (с рождеством being the more informal version)

Japanese: メリークリスマス

Polish: Wesołych Świąt

Christmas time is not one for me. It is a time for children and those who have others to share it with. To me it is the days of film repeats and being told how I am not part of the greater society. I worked Christmas Eve so I had no ‘run up’ to the celebration and it will pass like an anomaly.

During the Victorian times, when many of the Christmas traditions were first created or at least solidified as Christmas specific traditions (tree, cards, stockings hanging, decorations, caroling, mistletoe, etc), it was common to tell ghost stories and go for a walk after the dinner. Hence why Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol featuring the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. I think going for a walk in the fresh air would be a good thing to bring back as it seems people just hole up in their houses for the next few days rather than enjoy the Winter weather.