Monday, March 28, 2011

Pillars of The Earth (2010)

I have read the novel which this mini-series is based on, yet I still enjoyed watching this. The film is fast paced and the intrigues are well woven. Set in the 12th century in Kingsbridge, England, the main plot is how Prior Philip wants to build a cathedral, but the plan is opposed strongly by the bishop, who wants to use the capital to build a castle for himself. Another important character is Jack, the master builder's foster son, who later will continue his father's work.

I think the series is well made, although I hope Aliena, Jack's mistress, could be played by another actress. Hayley Atwell has a modern face. Aliena is a modern girl - for her time-, but I think Atwell's face is still too modern. She reminds me of Claire Danes in Les Miserables (1998), whose face I also think is too modern. They are beautiful, but not the kind of beauty I imagine for girls in those eras.

After watching Don Camillo, the intrigues in this series scare me, however fictional they are. The priests in Pillars of The Earth are very corrupted that they are not afraid of God anymore, or worse - they think they will be blessed for what they are doing. Bishop Waleran, for example; he tortures himself in the name of Christ and prays to God to forgive all his sins and takes pity on him, yet all the time he continues to lie, hate his brothers - especially Prior Philip- and plans wicked things. The Communist mayor in Don Camillo is a thousand times much better and kinder than priests in this series.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quand vient la peur (2010)

This is a 2 part miniseries, about serial murder on brunette women in the 70's in Poitou-Charentes region. Anne Ketal investigates, with the help of her partner Mathias, who has recently arrives from other region. The victims are found with open belly and a dead crow nearby. As usual when horrific things happen in a small town, the inhabitants begin to suspect each other.

The police force is in a poor condition. With such a big case, it seems only Anne is working on it. Mathias is more interested in building a relationship with her than catching the murderer. When her friend calls Anne after receiving a dead crow and believes she is the next target, Anne calls some police to go to her house. As there is no patrol car, they go by bike - and has a flat tire. When they arrive, the girl has been dead.

Realizing that the killer only targets brunette women, the beauty salon is flooded with those who want to dye their hair blonde.

The conclusion is somewhat disappointing. The sympathetic Mathias turns out to be the culprit. OK, he has been abandoned by his mother and abused by his foster mother. "Do you realize that the women you killed have nothing to do with this?" asks Anne. "That is why you have to kill me now to stop this." he answers. I hope he could come with a better line.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tangled (2010)

I know the story of Rapunzel: A pregnant woman wants a rapunzel leaf and her husband steals it from their neighbour's garden. This neighbour turns out to be a witch who wants the new born baby for payment of the rapunzel leaf. She jails the baby girl, named Rapunzel, in a high tower, whose only way out is a window which can be reached by climbing Rapunzel's very long hair. Time passes and a prince finds the way to enter the tower and falls in love with Rapunzel. When the witch finds out, she cuts short Rapunzel's hair, throws her away, greets the prince, blinds him and throws him away as well. Many years later only Rapunzel, who already given birth to twins, meets her prince again and cures his blindness with her tears.

This Disney version of that story is a bit difference. Tangled, as it is called, is a very entertaining movie, although I must say that I am a bit annoyed of how they are always ruining classic stories. A pregnant queen is sick and the whole kingdom is searching for a certain Rapunzel flower to cure her. A witch has been hiding the flower to keep her young and beautiful. When the flower has been taken away from her, she finds that the queen's baby girl's golden hair is as magical as the flower; so she takes the baby away and hides her, named Rapunzel, in a high tower. Every year on their lost baby's birthday, the king and queen and their people fly lanterns into the sky. Rapunzel watches the shining lanterns from her window and dreams to be able to see what they are, for she thinks they are some kind of stars. Then enters the rogue prince, who is actually a wanted man for thieving.

I think since The Little Mermaid, Disney make the characters very modern. The expressions, the dialogues are so lively... I myself prefer the classic way. Snow White's prince or Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty are my favourite. They have manners. These modern characters, begins with prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, sometimes can look stupid and not elegant at all. It's like watching degradation in human characters, in this case - represented by cartoon characters.

Don Camillo Box Set

I was wrong to buy the region 1 Don Camillo box set from Koch Lorber, because later I found out that in France there were a box set contained 6 movies. I didn't know that the French box set actually had English subtitles. I put it in my wish list, but as I was saving money, it was sold out. Fortunately, another one was coming out, but this one only contained 5 movies. It was okay as I learned that the 6th movie didn't star Fernandel as Don Camillo.

So I end up with this box set from Studio Canal. Another difference from Koch Lorber box set, is that in the first 3 movies: Le petit monde de Don Camillo, Le retour de Don Camillo, and La grande bagarre de Don Camillo; English subtitles only come with the French audio version. The Italian audio version comes with French subtitles.

I love Don Camillo movies (and books). As I have written when I wrote about the first 2 movies, this Catholic priest and the Communist mayor both have good and bad side in them. They dislike each other, but cannot leave without each other; like in the end of La Grande Bagarre de Don Camillo when Peppone wins the deputy election and is ready to leave the little town. Don Camillo is more sad than happy to see his enemy going away.

I see many recent movies with many dialogues yet they are empty. The writers have worked hard to please producers, to get the scripts bought and made into movies; but for me the words are meaningless, like they are fabricated and false. It's different with Don Camillo's movies. I read how people say the sequels of Don Camillo movies are not as good as the first, but when I watched the 3rd (La grande bagarre de Don Camillo) I really enjoyed it. I am not sure if it's because in the credits it says that the writer of Don Camillo books Giovanni Guareschi himself wrote the script. [I jumped immediately for the 3rd as I had watched the 1st and 2nd from Koch Lorber.]

If I have a less preference among the 5 movies, it's Don Camillo en Russie, which I think doesn't have many plots as the other 4.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

River God - A Novel of Ancient Egypt

The main character of this book, who also serves as the narrator, is an eunuch slave called Taita. He is very bright, so it's a pity he is only a slave, because in a free world he could be the most intelligent and richest man in the world. In one point, her mistress gives him his freedom, but he loves her so much that he refuses the gift. Sometimes I think the author has gone too far.

Wilbur Smith claims with a footnote that this book is more fact than fiction, but I just read that in River God's sequel, The 7th Scroll, he drew the claim. River God is set in 1700s BC, where Egypt is invaded by the Hyksos.

Taita belongs to cruel Lord Intef, the grand vizier. Taita loves Lord Intef's beautiful daughter, Lostris, and helps her to unite with her lover Tanus. Lostris afterwards becomes the Queen, after marrying the Pharaoh and giving him a son - which is actually Tanus'. The Pharaoh dies in a battle when the Hyksos come, and Queen Lostris goes into exile. The book ends with Queen Lostris, before her death, returns to Thebes, which has been won back from the Hyksos. Interesting thing about this book, is that before the Hyksos came, Egyptians never seen a horse. The Hyksos defeat their infantry with chariots.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Tourist (2010)

First thing I know about The Tourist, is that it's a remake from a 2005 French movie Anthony Zimmer. So when watching The Tourist and I found myself asking why Interpol (so many of them) were after Angelina Jolie's character -and using this incredible technology, which must be expensive, which enables us to read a letter which has been burned to ashes- and is it necessary? for she is one of them anyway - I put that question aside for I haven't watched the French version.

Interpol is after her because she is the lover of Alexander Pearce, a gangster's private banker who has stolen from his boss; but the real reason Scotland Yard wants him is because Pearce owes tax money to the British government. They hope by tailing Elise (Angelina Jolie), sooner or later she will lead them to him. They have no idea how he looks like as he has undergone face surgery. When Elise leads them to Frank (played by Johnny Depp), the gangster believes that Frank is Alexander Pearce and is after him.

There is a twist in the end, but in a whole, I think the conclusion is not convincing. The gangster is right after all, but if we see the movie again, I think Frank really haven't ever met Elise before. Frank seems a shy guy, and with this attitude, could he steal money from the cruelest gangster? I prefer if the hints are scattered through out the movie. Timothy Dalton and Paul Bettany are great in their supporting roles; while I think Angelina Jolie looks too skinny here.