Thursday, February 28, 2013

Film Review: Solaris/ Солярис (1972) Andrei Tarkovsky vs. Solaris (2002) Steven Soderbergh

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

I am currently writing a comparison piece on Solaris - Andrei Tarkovsky vs. Steven Soderbergh and I have to admit that I was much more impressed with Tarkovsky's version. 

Both films are based on the Polish writer Stanislaw Lem's sci-fi novel of the same name. Although neither truly grasp the philosophical notions explored in the book, I believe that Tarkovsky has presented a personalised adaptation of Lem's story, perhaps adhering to the notion that a mirror copy from word to image is impossible. 

Conversely, Soderbergh's interpretation was very Hollywood stylized and thus lacked the metaphysical sentiments outlined in the novel. The visual elements were a bit of a cliche - dark metallics and blue 'I've seen it before' hues - while the acting is unimpressive. 

But perhaps you should watch the films before making up your mind (vote Tarkovsky). At this point I am not going to include a review or plot outline as my article will address these sections, so keep tuned for a post of my article, written for the La Trobe University magazine Rabelais.

Film stills derived from Solaris (1972) Andrei Tarkovsky.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Film Preview: Another Win for New Romanian Cinema

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

I was both thrilled and surprised to hear that this year's Golden Bear went to Romanian director, Calin Peter Netzer for his psychological drama, Child's Pose/Pozitia Copilului (2013). The reason why I was thrilled, was because there has been a slight dry spell in the way of New Romanian Cinema for the past year or so. Since, Cristi Puiu's Stuff and Dough/Marfa si Banii (2001), Romanian filmmakers have been producing only the highest quality cinema for which they have received an abundance of international recognition and awards. However, there weren't as many films released throughout 2012 compared to the years prior, and it's starting to make us film enthusiasts a little nervous. It is difficult to ignore the menacing fact that New Romanian Cinema might just as well break apart as quickly as it broke through. This is why I was thrilled to read about the the latest Romanian cinema triumph and only hope to witness its continuing growth from this point onwards.

Now to the matter of my surprise. I was swept away when I saw Netzer's second feature film Medal of Honor/Medalia de Onoare (2009) particularly because it combines the dismal traits of a post-communist Romanian society with a sense of comedy and human sensitivity. But not much followed after it's release in the lines of critical reviews and academic papers. So it was a pleasant surprise (maybe mixed with a bit of astonishment) to receive my first Google alert in months, on Netzer's well-deserved feat. Maybe I should be the first critic to examine his vital contribution to New Romanian Cinema.

A film review and plot outline will be published on this site soon. In the meantime, here is an amazing still from the film - the one and only Luminita Gheorghiu aka. one of the most outstanding actresses, well, in the world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cinema Movements: Soviet Parallel Cinema

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

There's actually not much information out there on Soviet Parallel Cinema apart from Vice magazine founder, Shane Smith and his eccentric attempt to clear things up on the matter. The term, Parallel Cinema, is another term used to describe the Indian New Wave of the 1950s and 60s. These were films that explored realism - life in India from a raw and natural perspective - rather than Bollywood's glitzy portrayals. 

During the 1980s, an underground group of filmmakers in the Soviet Union assumed the philosophy and practice of the Indian New Wave, except they took it to a whole new level. Watch the documentary by Vice below, if you dare.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cinematographer's Profile: Through the Eye of Oleg Mutu

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Oleg Mutu is a cinematographer who is probably best known for his work on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) by Cristi Puiu and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) by Cristian Mungiu. Although the visual aspects are certainly comparable between these two films, Mutu's style pre-Death of Mr. Lazarescu is on a completely different level. His first professional encounter with Puiu was for his satiric short, Cigarettes and Coffee (2004) which proves to be an excellent preview for the artistic collaboration that was to flourish the following year. The dull colour pallet - grays and blues - are set against a crisp almost-documentary portrayal of corruption, thus giving new meaning to the term 'socialist realism', something I like to call 'Romanian realism'. 

Cristi Puiu (front) with Oleg Mutu on set.
Photo derived from altcine.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Visual Diary: Documenting the Poetics of Realism

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Artavazd Peleshyan's The Seasons of the Year (1975)

Peleshyan is an Armenian filmmaker who is known for his brilliant depiction of nature, rural life and historical events in The Seasons of the Year. I first came across this film a few years ago at the Melbourne Film Festival and have since referenced his style in many of my writings. Peleshyan is one of those rare filmmakers that can achieve a poetic image through documentary filmmaking, a combination that should be a paradox but nonetheless works well at the hands of a genius.