Munich Film Festival II

Jun. 27th, 2017 11:28 am
selenak: (Orson Welles by Moonxpoints5)
[personal profile] selenak
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 06:21 pm
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Today is our 24th anniversary. Scott took the day off so we could hang out together. We went into Ypsilanti to do some Ingress and got lunch at a diner called The Bomber.

Cordelia spent most of the afternoon with one of her friends downtown. She kept calling us and asking us to suggest things to do. I couldn't come up with anything she liked. They'd already gotten ice cream and didn't want any other type of food. They didn't want to window shop. They didn't want to actually shop. They didn't want to visit any museums. Pokemon Go and Ingress are too out of style to even be considered even if they had either on their phones.

Yesterday, Scott got the lawn mowed and cleaned out one of the two Time Capsule drives. The big problem we've got is that his hard drive is over a terabyte of family photos and videos. We may need to dedicate one of the drives to his machine and use the other for me and Cordelia, but that will require that Scott actually pay attention to what the program is doing and be willing to address the matter rapidly if one drive or the other stops working.

We watched two library DVDs last night and then returned them today (long, long waitlists). Both were amusing in different ways, and we even got Cordelia to join us in watching one of them.

Scott bewilders me by watching TV episodes on his laptop while he's also watching his brother playing games with active voices (and explosions). I think he flips back and forth in terms of the visuals. When I'm in the same room with him, I keep trying to follow what's going on just by listening, and... Yeah. Not working.

I used the c-PAP for a chunk of last night and didn't have any sneezing or runny nose today. Hopefully, that's done. I'm not sure how much the Ativan is actually helping and how much is just that I've got more time for sleeping to make up for the poor quality. I'm having trouble, when on my side, with getting adequate head support without dislodging the nasal pillows. I very much doubt that a different mask would help given that it seems to be the shape of my face changing depending on which bit the pillow is pressing against.

And now we're trying to come up with dinner ideas...

It's just a mountain, I can move it

Jun. 26th, 2017 06:12 pm
musesfool: art deco brandy ad (been drinking since half-past three)
[personal profile] musesfool
I was completely useless last night after several hours of day drinking. it was a lot of fun, but oy the headache that hit around 7 pm! Even though we definitely hydrated.

Now I have version 3 of some sort of bug bite balm cooling on the counter - it uses coconut oil, which I don't really like the smell of, so hopefully the tea tree oil, peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender essential oils will cover that up. Though I would bear the smell if it meant the itching stopped.

I know I said I was done with trying to make anti-itch cream - hot water, ice, and rubbing alcohol in conjunction with benadryl and zyrtec seem to work best, tbh - but I figured third time's the charm? And I had all the ingredients so...I guess we'll see. Or maybe I am just super itchy, since i am super allergic to bites and swell up and get all welty.

I guess that's all the exciting news from here.

***

(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:25 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[personal profile] dreamwaffles linked to a fundraiser for Kaye, who has been researching Rat Lungworm, a disease that almost killed her son Graham, who is now disabled and uses a service dog for everyday life. Kaye was a crucial part of the University of Hawai'i's RLWD research team and also the team trying to get legislative support and grant funding, but she's fighting medical debt for Graham's treatment and ongoing needs. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and is now dealing with an eye infection they need to get treatment for before their roommate and her toddler come back from vacation, so they don't infect the baby. They're raising $50-$60 in the short term for medical treatment; they also have a long-term fundraiser running to cover living expenses, previous medical bills, and a recent rent increase. You can read more and help out here.

[tumblr.com profile] anna-guth is a student from Germany who was recently accepted to Redroofs School for the Performing Arts in England, but her parents can't afford the full GBP24K tuition. She is raising E6.5K for tuition and school fees; you can read more and reblog here, or give directly to the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] echosiriusrumme is a student trying to buy her own clarinet; at present she doesn't have her own instrument to practice with but has a pressing need to practice before auditions and recitals for a Performance track next fall at her university. She has a few options lined up for between $800 and $1.3K, but needs to raise the funds to cover the cost; she is offering to repay over time any funds contributed to the purchase. You can read more and reblog here (plus find a ko-fi link) or give to her paypal here.


And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

Orphan Black 5.03

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:58 am
selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
[personal profile] selenak
And my show love is back! Woo hoo! That was a fantastic episode.

Read more... )

Fandom Giftbox

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:30 am
tielan: Wonder Woman (Default)
[personal profile] tielan
[community profile] fandomgiftbox is running again in July-August. It works a little like Fandom Stocking, but is in the middle of the year, instead of the end when all the Yuletide/Santa exchanges take place.

You post a comment with the lists of your requests for fandoms/characters/prompts, and the type of gifts you'd like to receive, and the mods post your lists in a separate post which is temporarily screened. People may then gift you fic and art based on what you've posted.

You don't have to gift other people - it's not an exchange. However, it's hoped you'll go looking for someone who has interests that match yours and give them a little something.

Sign Ups at [community profile] fandomgiftbox run until the 7th July.

fandom things

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:27 am
tielan: (AVG - maria)
[personal profile] tielan
With two assignments and a pinch hit to get done in the next week, none of which are even close to completed, along with both the Porn Battle community ([community profile] pbam) and the Fan Flashworks community ([community profile] fan_flashworks) running amnesty weeks, it may not have been the wisest time to subscribe to Netflix.

But I do have Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, Sense8, and a number of movies lined up for watching...

To do - 6/25

Jun. 25th, 2017 12:14 pm
albedinous: (Default)
[personal profile] albedinous
Done today:
- Got food (granola bar and milk)
- Started laundry
- Cleaned litterboxes
- Took Nick to Susan's to do yardwork

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edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Elizabeth Culmer

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