Monday, April 22, 2024

Finding Ola First Series

"Finding Ola" is not my first Egyptian movie, but the most American I have seen.   My assumption is this depicts upper middle class.  It is not likely that very many Egyptians live in this manner, but be assured there is plenty of Egyptian content.   

It is a typical drama, comedy and romance.  Ola's two children, her mother, her ex mother in law, the widower and his daughter who spends much of her time in the Ola household, her ex husband, her two business partners  and her ex husband's new celebrity girlfriend leads to a delicate dilemma.  The viewer will be caught between interesting choices.  Ola herself is delightful.

At one point prompted by friends, Ola does express an interest in dating, but learns there are many pitfalls.   We follow her business challenges and her personal ups and downs.


This is very engaging film professionally done.  Key personnel include

Ghada Abdel Aai is the creator and a script writer.  He has 3 writing credits.

Hadi El Bagoury was the director.  He did commercials and music videos before getting into films.  He has worked on films in Dubai, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco.He has 20 credits as a a director and 4 as producer including  "Excuse my French" (2014).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/09/excuse-my-french.html

Maha Elwazir wass the second script writer.  She got a Ph.D. in Film and Women Studies and is currently a film studies professor at Cairo University.  She participated as a writer for the Arabic adaptation of the American hit, "ER". She has 4 film credits including "Newton's Cradle" (2023).   Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/02/newtons-cradle.html

Khaled Al  Kammar handled the music.  He has 38 music credits including "Excuse my French" (2014)

Hind Sabry  plays Ola plus was an  executive producer.  She is a lawyer. As a Tunisian actress she won the top award at the Venice Film Festival and and later accepted offer to sit on as a judge for the Festival.  She has 48 credits including "The Island" (2007, "Asmaa" (2011) andn"Excuse My French" (2014).   She is world class.

Haney Abel plays Hashim, the husband.  He is founder and member of an Arab music band,   He has 39 acting credits 9 for composing and 3 fro the music department including "Asmaa" (2011) and "Excuse My French" (2014).

Sawsan Badr played Sohier, Ola's mother and the brand face for a skin cream/  She has 120 film credits.

Nada Musa played Nisreen a close friend and business partner to Ola.  She has 28 film credits.

Available on Netflix, subtitled or dubbed.  A second season is being set up--you won't want to miss it.


Friday, April 19, 2024

Amar Singh Chamkila used dirty lyrics to success and an early death

As a teenager (and young adult) I was very used to vulgar songs and did my share of participating.  Mostly forgotten now.

"Amar Singh Chamkila"(2024) starts off with the assassination of Amar and his wife Amarjot, plus two band members.  We learn later that this crime is unsolved.

 Shortly after this we learn a little bit about Amar's success.  He sang vulgar songs.  An example of vulgarity was provided when a young girl asked what  "boner" meant.  An older expression I had long forgotten.  His songs had a beat that encouraged people to dance.

As Amar get rolling, he loses his first duet singer.  Quickly gets a second, Amajot and eventually was coerced into marrying her.  A detail that came out later was that he was already married.  They continue together and had a child.

His popularity was widespread.  Some young people asked some elderly women if they were aware of the vulgar songs and they admitted that they "discretely" danced to it.  He performs in other countries, particularly Canada where Punjabis have gathered

The thrust of this film is the conflict between popularity and censorship.  Sikh religious leaders at one point get him to sing devotional songs, but his fans protest.  Later the religious authorities threaten strong action and he is required to give up his "naughty" songs among some other restrictions.  He ignores and we return to the beginning of the film.

To give a feeling of reality we see archived footage videos and photos of the real couple side by side of the film couple that are stunningly similar.

It is a fascinating story of popularity and censorship.  You will get a sense of conflict.  The cast and crew are top notch.  Here are some of them.

Imtiaz Ali was director and script writer.  He has 18 writing credits, 11 directing and 6 for producer. including "Ahista Ahista" (2006),  "Love Aaj Kal" (2009), "Jab We Met" (2007), "Rockstar" (2011), "Highway" (2014) and "Tamasha" (2015)/  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/02/tamasha-wonderful-story.html

A.R. Rahman, in truth he was the deciding point for me  as a lot of his music is in my library.    He had done commercial jingles when Mani Ratman invited him to write for a film "Roja" (1992).  I had not realized that Rahman wrote for the Tamil market, but has expanded to Bollywood,  American, English etc.  With the encouragement of  Andrew Lloyd Webber he wrote for a stage musical, "Bombay Dreams" that had long runs in both London and New York. He has 201 composing credits and 81 for the music department including "Bombay" (1995), "Fire" (1996), "Lagaan Once Upon a Time in India" (2001), "Swades" (2004), "Water" (2005), "Rang de Basanti" (2006), "Ghajini" (2008), "Slum Dog Millionaire" (2008), "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" (2012), "Highway" (2014), "100 Foot Journey" (2014) and "Tamasha" (2015).    Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/07/the-making-of-lagaan-chale-chalo-lunacy.html  Elsewhere Rahman had commented that he often gives producers a difficult time in order to get what he wants and feels the film benefits--this comes out a bit in this blog.

Sylvester Fonseca was in charge of cinematography.  He has 29 film credits including "Lust Stories" (2018), "Sacred Games" (2018-2019) and "Choked Paisa Bolta Hai" (2020).

Aarti Bajaj was the editor.  She has 47 credits including "Jab We Met" (2010), "Karthik Calling Karthik" (2011), "No One Killed Jessica" (2011), "Ishaqzaade" (2012) and and "Highway" (2014). 

Mukesh Chhabra was in charge of casting.  Mukesh Chhabra helped with the casting.   After studying acting he spent over six years teaching and acting.  He is noted for bringing such faces as Rajkummar Rao, Sushant Singh Rajpt, Mrunal Thakur, Prateik Gandhi, Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh to the screen.  He has 227 credits for casting (+ 29 for the casting department and 29 for acting) including "Amal" (2007), "Kai Che Po" (20130, "Wrong Side Raju" (2016), "Mom" (2017), "Sacred Games" (2018-19), "Sanju" (2018), "Notebook" (2019), "The Family Man" (2019), "Dil Bechara" (2020), "Laal Singh Chaddha" (2022), "Jaane Jaan" (2023) and "Dunki" (2023). For a film where Mukesh had a lasting impression check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/05/kai-che-po.html

Diljit Dosanjh played Amare Singh Chamkila.  He was the first Punjabi actor to be featured on New York Times Square.  He has 82 acting credits and 27 for the Music Departmnet including "Udta Punjab" (2016), "Phillauri" (2017), Soorma" (2018), "Good Newwz' (2019) and "Jogi" (2022).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/02/good-newwz.html

Parineeti Chopra played Amarjot, duet partner for Amar.  As a youngster she used to sing with her cousin Priyanka Chopra Jonas and their fathers.  She received triple honors at Manchester She took at job at Yash Raj Films as a public relations consultant, but soon got into acting getting a big breakthrough with her first film, "Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl" (2011).  She has 70 acting credist and 2 for the music department including "Ishaqzaade" (2012), "Shuddh Desi Romance" (20130, "Hassee Toh Phasee" (2014),"The Girl on the Train" (2021), "Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar" (2021) and "Mission Raniganj" (2024).

Anjum Batra played Tikki and one time friend of Amar.  He has 13 credits including "Dev D" (2009), "The Dirty Picture" (2011), "Jersey" (2022) and "Maamia Legal Hai" (2024).

Mohit Chauhan was a key backup singer, but also made a cameo appearance.   He once sang one of the most romantic songs in my memory in the film "Jab We Met" (2010).  He has 142 Music Departmnet and 16 as an actor  including "Rang di Basanti" (2006), "Delhi-6" (2009), "Love Aaj Kal" (2009), "Zindagi Na Milega Dobara" (2011), "Tamasha" (2015), "Sultan" (2016), "Lucknow Central" (2017), "Pad Man" (2018) and "Notebook" (2019).

This film enjoys popular and critical success.  Available on Netflix, subtitled or dubbed.  It captures a part of the Punjabi culture which has traveled globally including here in Canada..

I have bolded the first mention of a film I have seen.

Monday, April 15, 2024

A Judy Blume classic makes it to the screen

Judy Blume is an author that seemed to write about girls and women and their issues.  Her books were popular and movie studios were very interested to turn that popularity to the screen.   She resisted the easy money as she felt a lot of her stories would be distorted and lack the impact that inspired them.  A combination of looser censorship rules and and the search for original material led to a script for "Are you there God?  It's me Margaret" (2023)that Judy could approve.

Essentially the story is about a teenage girl approaching puberty.  Her parents are fairly modern, but we soon learn (indeed most of us can identify that we are very influenced by our same age colleagues.  Two events are their focus:  breast enlargement and menstruation.  There is also an element of one upmanship that involves lying.

Religion plays a role.  Her father is Jewish, but the family doesn't practice any religion.  Margaret sometimes feels the need to express her feelings and talks with God.  She also decides to attend a variety of religious ceremonies including Jewish, Protestant, Catholic.   She meets her mother's evangelical parents which goes well for awhile, but when they start an effort at conversion they are asked to leave.

Margaret and her three friends achieve some of their female milestones and share their new status.  Another student who had been more developed as a woman had been ostracized until Margaret made an effort to know her better.

It is not done to titillate,  but rather to inform.  It is both realistic and tasteful.  The cast and crew deserve praise     

Judy Blume, wrote the original novel. and had refused to permit a film version until confident a film would adhere faithfully to the book.  She has written 25 books that have sold over 85 million books in 30 languages. She has been active against censorship and book bannings.  In 2023 Time magazine included her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.  She can be seen walking a dog in the background.

Kelly Freemon Craig directed, scripted and helped produce the film.  She has an English degree from UC Irvine.  She has written sketch comedy.  She has 5 writing,directing and 1 producing credits.

James L Brooks was another producer.  He is one of only 6 directors to have won 3 Oscars for the same film; Best Picture, Best Adapted Script and Best Director.  Heavily involved with television he has also won 21 Prime Time Emmys.   He has 43 writing, 24 producer and 7 directing credits including  "Mary Tyler Moore" (1970-1977), "Rhoda" (1974-1977, "Lour Grant" (1977-1978), "Big" (1988),and  "Jerry Maguire" (1996).

Hans Zimmer wrote the music.  He is German born and trained, but got his first significant breaks in England.  His first two American films each son a Best Picture Oscar.   Has won 2 Oscars and numerous other awards. Is noted as a pioneer at combing old and new technologies.  He has 149 credits for the Music  Department and another for 245 for composing including "Rain Man" (1988), "The Lion King" (1994), "Inception" (2010), "Rush" (2013), "Interstellar"(2014),  "The Crown" (2016-2022)"Dunkirk" (2017), "Blade Runner 2049" (2017), "Dune (Part One)" (2021) and "Top Gun Maverick" (2022). 

Tim Ives was the cinematographer.  He has 32 film credits including "House of Cards" (2013).

Nick Moore was the editor.  He has 30 editing credits including "Notting Hill" (1999), ""About a Boy" (2002), "Love, Actually" (2003), "Leap Year "(2010), "The Ottoman Lieutenant" (2017) and "Burnt" (2017).

Abby Ryder Fortson played Margaret, a role that required spunkiness, and a naivety that matured.  She has 19 acting credits including "Ant-Man" (2015) and "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018).

Rachel McAdams, cAdams played Barbara, the mother.  Born in London, Ontario graduating from York University in Toronto.  She has 44 credits including "Time Traveler's Wife" (2005), "Midnight in Paris" (2011), "The Vow" (2012), "About Time" (2013), "A Most Wanted Man" (2014) "Spotlight" (2015),  "The Little Prince" (2015) and "Game Night" (2018).

Kathy Bate plays Margaret's grandmother.  She has played a lot on Broadway.  She has 128 acting credits, 10 for directing and 2 for producing including "Straight Time" (1978),"Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean" (1982), "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1992), "Titantic" (1997), "The Blind Side" (2009), "Midnight in Paris" (2011) and "Bad Words" (2013).

Benny Safdie played Margaret's father.  He often works with his brother Josh.  Benny has 15 writing, 25 acting, 9 producing and 16 directing credits including "Uncut Gems" (2019) and "Oppenheimer" (2023). 

Although it covers heavy topics like sex and religion it is an uplifting film.  I watched it on a DVD and learned a bit on their special features.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Litvinenko

 "Litvenenko" (2022) is based on a true story, that on the surface is hard to believe.  It takes not only skill, but also gall to pull what the Russians did and have since repeated.  We are introduced to Alexander Livinnenko as he finished up a meal in September of 2006.  Almost right away it seems he is in the hospital  and now bald.  They call in the police who are at first skeptical as he claims he has been murdered and names his murderer, Vladimir Puetin.  Doctors and researchers try to find out what is killing him, but it is finally found to be polonium and Litvenenko already knows he will die.

The rest of the series is devoted to trying to learn how it was done and what was the motive.  The English police actually traveled to Moscow where they were misled.  The scientific search did establish two men who actually executed the poisoning.  Marina wanted to follow her husband's request to blame Putin publicly.  The British government refused to cover it citing international concerns.  A lot of effort to reverse, but it is several years before we see an archived video of Prime Minister Theresa May announcing the Russian government's responsibility for the murder.  We are told that in September  of 2021 the European Court of Human Rights declared the Russian Government was responsible for the assassination.  

For motive we know that Litvinenko had been ordered to kill a Russian businessman and refused.  He was persecuted and publicly criticized Vladimir Putin.  He fled with his wife and son to Britain, went into their security protection and eventually became a British citizen.  Before Theresa May made her announcement, Putin made a statement claiming Litvinenko was so low he was below Putin's attention and certainly not worth killing.  Obviously Litvinenko was not below his attention.

Since that time we have seen other suspicious deaths.  Alexander Navalny got a dose on an airplane and fortunately the plane was diverted to a hospital where they knew what to look for and could fix it. 

Polonium is a word I recently learned more about.  I had read the word in news coverage of a few other Russian assassinations attempts. I thought it was an exotic chemical.  Tutoring an English language student we learned that polonium had first been discovered by Madame Curie who was looking for something else which turned out to be radium.  She named an unexpected element polonium as a tribute to her native country, Poland.  It is rare, but her discovery was not in Russia. The over riding factor is the cost of  mining it.  unless of course you have a pirority for needing a difficult to trace poison.   

Jim Field Smith was the director and an executive producer.  He had been a member of the Dutch Elm Conservatoire, a comedy sketch group that toured the United Kingdom.  He has 18 credits as a director and 15 as a producer. 

George Kay, wrote the script and was an executive producer.  He has 24 credits as writer, 9 as producer and 2 for directing.  He crated and wrote the scripts for  "Lupin" (2021-2023). 

Gabriel Prokofiev wrote the music.  He is the grandson of famous Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev.  He has composed classical and electronic music with his compositions being performed by such orchestras as BBC Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Buenos Aires Philharmonic and the Royal Seville Symphony.  He has 7 film credits. 

Ed Moore,was the cinematographer  He has 24 cinematography and 26 camera and electric department credits including "Shetland" (2018).

David Webb, was the editor.  He has 30 editor credits including "Sex Education" (2019-2024) and "The Gentlemen" (2024).

Mark Bonner played Superintendent Timmons.  He has 77 credits including "Wire in The Blood" (2002), "Line of Duty" (2014), "Grantchester" (2024), "Unforgotten" (2017), "Shetland" (2015-2020) and "Guilt" (2019-2023).

Margarita Levieeva played Marina Litvinenko.  She was born in Leningrad and had two grandmothers who survived the World War II Leningrad Siege.  In her youth she was involved with rhythmic gymnastics.  She has 38 film credits including "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011) and "The Blacklist" (2013-202016).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/09/shostakovich-and-siege-of-leningrad.html

Sam Troughton played a key detective Brian.  He had performed on stage for both London's National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  He has 40 film credits including"Foyle's War" (2012) and "Chernobyl" (2019).

Mark Ivanir played Alexander Goldfarb, a close friend of the Litvinenko family and an outspoken Putin critic.  He was born in Ukraine and immigrated with his family to Israel.  With the Israeli army he took by in a clandestine operation to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.  After his army time he enrolled in a clown school and as a clown he traveled over Europe.  With his military experience and his lingustic talent he fit into a lot of films.  He speaks English, Ukrainian, Russian, French,Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic and German..  He has 155 credits including "Schindler's List"(1993), "The Blacklist" (2014) and "Away" (2020).

David Tennant played Alexander Litvinenko.  He was the youngest student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.  He becme a prominent member of the Royal Shakespare Company.  He has 175 acting credits and 5 as a producer.  His films include "Foyle's War" (1992) "Hamlet" (2009), "Escape Artist" (2013), "Broadchurch" (2013-2017), "Des" (2020) and "Inside Man" (2022). 

Stephen Campbell Moore played the barrister Ben Emerson.  He has 61 credits including "The Lady in the Van" (2015) and "Downton Abbey" (2019).

American voters need to be aware that Vladimir Putin is someone who Donald Trump seems to admire and publicly supports.  Never forget that Trump took Putin's word against his own security experts.   Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/06/house-of-trump-house-of-putin.html

I watched a DVD copy.

As usual I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Pulang

Over the past few years I have become conscious that engaging films are increasingly coming out of Asia and not just Japan, South Korea and India.  Thailand and the Philippines have a long tradition, but I am now noticing Indonesia, Singapore and lately Malaysia.  The world is increasingly linked and bright minds have more resources to use in creative manners.

"Pulang" (2018) is an unusual love story.   A husband leaves his wife to sail around the world seeking a fortune promising to return.  She waits in total 61 years.  At one point she travels to Hong Kong and misses him by a day or so.  We follow the husband and also his son and grandson.  He felt a failure because he was no better off than when he left.  One friend, Lum was in occasional contact with him.  Not all love stories have a happy ending, but here there is left a feeling of timeless love.

The film is professionally done.  The cast and crew are to be commended pushing the Malaysian cinema forward.

A key figure in the development of this film ua Ahmad Isham Omar who discovered a gravestone of his grandfather in Liverpool, England.  He is listed as writer, uncredited producer and for the theme music.  He started with music being a musician, arranger, songwriter and producer.  At one time he was an executive producer with Disney+ responsible for Southeast Asia content.  He has 9 credits for producing films and 2 as a writer.  

Kabir Bhatia was director and lead editor.  Born in India he got some experience with Indian television before heading to Malaysia.  His first film directing in Malaysia was remade in Indonesia and he was invited to direct it.  He has 27 directing, 12 producing and 8 writing credits including "Don" (2006).

Aubrey Suwito wrote the music. He has 2 music credits.

Zambrees Haras handled the cinematography with 9 credits.

Remy Ishak played Othman.  He has 40 credits.  

Puteri Aisha with 4 acting credits.

Alvin Wong play Lum, the friend.  He has played in Malaysian, Indonesian and Cantonese films,   He has 32 film credits.

Juliana Evans played Alia, a British relative.  Her father was English.  She was raised in Malayasia and got a start young.  At age 12 she was a host on television and at age 16 hosted a popular tv. show.  She also was a rhytmic gymnast.  Juliana studied acting at Western Michigan University.  She went on to study acting at the Los Angeles campus for the New York Film Academy.  She has 17 film credits.

This film would be a good introduction to Malaysian cinema.  Available on Netflix with subtitles.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The Believers

We have seen Christian and Jewish hypocrites, but most of us are unconscious of Buddhist hypocrites.  Still if there wasn't something strong at the core hypocrites would need to find another cover.

In "The Believers" three teenagers (Game, Win and Dear) fail at a gaming business venture and find themselves in very deep debt. They try to find an alternative to get out of debt and stumble on the idea of taking advantage of the Buddhist temples that seem to generate large income with little accountability.

They are very clever at how they manipulate those who run a small temple.  But they do attract attention.  They are basically laundering money, but others see temples as a great way to deal drugs.  Some of the monks are corrupt, but we also learn that many had been forced into monasteries by poor parents. 

The plot revolves around the schemes to pay off their debt and to deal with accusations of drug dealing.  They get involved with religious and miraculous symbols.  

There are a few sincerly religious people and one character is very good at articulating his beliefs.

Along the way you get a view of Thailand from moderately well off to poorer sections.from natural wild settings to modern cities and of course beautiful temples.   But it is really people who make this film so memorable.

Wattanapong Wongwan is the director in only his second feature. 

Aummmarapora Phandintong is the creator and a key writer for this series.  She has 13 credits for writing and 2 credits for the Script and Continuity Department.  She also was creator for "Analog Squad" (2023), one of my top favorites from last year,  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/analog-squad.html

R.J. Khanijaon provided the music.

Kittiwat Semerat was a cinematographer with 5 film credits.

Paradorn Vesurai was an editor with 6 editor, 2 editorial department and 2 composing credits.

Teeradon Supapunpinyo plays Win.  He speaks English and worked with Ron Howard directing  in "Thirteen Lives" (2022).    He played in a rock band.  He has 27 film credits including "Bad Genius" (2017) and "In Family We Trust" (2018).http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/09/in-family-we-trust.html and http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/06/bad-genius-out-of-thailand.html

Pachara Chirathivat played Game.  Was a band member including writing music, singing, keyboard and guitar.  He has 16 actnig, 1 composing and 1 soundtrack credit.Achiraya Nitibhon played Dear, sister to Game.  She took an online course with the Berklee College of Music.  As a singer she once had the number one hit in Thailand.  She has 2 film credits.

Channarong Khuntee-tao played Tang, one of the manipulators.  He has 11 acting and 1 directing credit.

Pramod Sangsorn played Yod, a detective who went against his superior.  He has 2 acting credits.

Will make you more conscius Available on Netflix dubbed or subtitled.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Andragogy

Indonesia is a large country that has been modernizing for awhile.  It is progressing with films.  "Andragogy" is a thoughtful story with some insights into social media.

The English title andragogy is like pedagogy.  They are both about teaching.  Pedagogy focuses on children while andragogy is concerned with adults.  Prani the main character is a school counselor up for a promotion.

Soon we see Prani arguing with a customer who Prani felt stepped out of line.  The argument became heated.  A few hours later it was learned the argument had been videotaped and put online.  What seemed noted at first was that Prani was heard to use a curse word. 

She felt under attack, but soon her students and fellow teachers came to her support.  She had been afraid the controversy might jeopardize her anticipated  (and needed) promotion.

One of her strongest supporters was a former student, Gora who recalled he had been troubled and gotten into many fights.  She strangely advised him to dig graves.  He did and felt it had been very helpful.  Some suggested that that had been a cruel idea.  Then to compound that criticism Gora went to see a therapist with everyone assuming he was not credible.

The principle still wanted Prani to be promoted to vice principle, but wanted her to push Gora to clarify his therapy.  She talked with him and felt assured Gora had other reasons for therapy.  She decided that "some things are not meant to be shared" which to me is one of the main messages of the film.  Mulkas, her son gives healing advice on social media she ignored, until she wanted to help Gora.  Pani was well supported despite outsider criticisms.

The film was made during the Covid pandemic and many of the characters are seen wearing masks something I didn't notice much in western films.  In a small way that may illustrate the power of film.

Indonesia is developing some experts.  Here are a few who made this film.

Wregas Bhanutej was director and writer.  He had success with short films, becoming the first Indonesian to win at the Cannes Festival.  He has 9 credits as a director, 6 as a writer and 3 as a producer including "Photocopier" (2021). 

 Yennu Ariendra provided the music.  He has 5 composing and 2 music department credits including "Photocopier" (2021).

Gunnar Nimpuno was the cinematographer.  He has 23 credits including "Photocopier" (2021).

Ahmed Hasan Yuniardi did the editing.  He has 10 credits also including "Photocopier" (2021).

 Sha Ine Febriyanti played Prani.  She started as a model before shifting to acting.  She has 12 acting credits including "Cigarette Girl" (2023).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/11/cigarette-girl.html

Angga Yunanda played Muklas, son to Prani.  He started as  model.  He has14 film credits.

Prilly Latuconsina played Tita, Prani's daughter.  She has a well established singing career.  She has 28 acting credits and 6 composing.

Dwi Sasono played Prani's husband.  He has 65 film credits including "Kartini Princess of Java" (2017).  Check   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/11/kartini-princess-of-java-feminist.html

Omar N. Esteghlal played Gora, a former student who felt her advice to work digging graves was good.  He has 20 acting credits.

Available on Netflix with subtitles.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Anatomy of a Fall, Oscar winner from France

 "Anatomy of a Fall" (2023) came to the Oscars with strong credentials from the Cannes Film Festival and the French Caesar awards.  It is a French film, but with much English dialogue included.  Language plays a role as one differential between the main couple.  The female lead feels more comfortable speaking in English and has many conversations where she listens to French questions and answers in English.  Occasionally she does speak French.

Basically it is a court room drama based on what might have been an accident, but others saw as either a murder or suicide.  In the court room we are subjected to evidence dealing with blood splatter, but also delves into the relationship between husband and wife including an audio tape of an argument with some violence.  At the heart Sandra was a moderately successful writer whereas he was a failed one.   On the other hand she had borrowed one of his plot devices with success.  She noted that they lived near his home town where her language was secondary.  Their son Daniel had been in had accident that left him partially blind and he was blamed.  Daniel loved both parents is a key witness, but he changes some details.  Near the end he recalls an incident with the family dog and conversation with his father on the way from their vet. 

A big winner at Cannes and the French Caesar.  Five nominations  for an Oscar with one win for bst original screenplay.  Here are some of the contributors for its success.

Justine Triet was writer and director and admitted she wrote the script with Sandra Huller in mind.  She lives with an shares 2 children with co-author Arthur Hrari.  She has 8 director, 5 writing and 4 editor credits.  She and Arthur share Oscar for best original script.

Arthur Harari was the co-writer and also played a small role in the film as a literary critic.  He has 14 acting, 6 writing and 5 directory credits.

A striking music included was a steel drum band performance of a cover for P.I.M.P. the original hip hop version of 50 cent piece.  It was very loud, played to annoy Sandra, just before the fall.  The original contained racist and sexist words.  The performer was the Bacao Rythm & Steel Band.  It was so mesmerizing I bought a copy.

Simon Beaufils was responsible for the cinematography.  He has 61 cinematography and 29 electrical and camera credits including a favorite, "The Intouchables" (2011). 

Laurent Senechal was the editor.  He has 19 editing and 16 Editorial Department credits.

Sandra Huller played Sandra Voyter.  Her first language is German, but has appeared in French, English and Austrian films.  She has a strong theatre background.  For one of her films she became a licensed forklift operator.  She has 43 acting credits including "Toni Erdman" (2016).  An unusual occurence was she was nominated as best actress for two foreign films in the recent Oscars.

Swann Arlaud played Vincent, Sandra's lawyer.  He was the son on a casting director  He has 65 acting, 2 dirextor and 2 writing credits.

Milo Machado-Graner played the key role of Daniel.  Originally they were looking for a partially blind actor who is blond, but he impressed the director so much he got the part anyway.  He had 6 acting credits.

Samuel Theis played the dead husband Samuel shown in flashbacks.  He has 30 acting 3 writing and 2 directing credits.  

Jehnny Beth played Marge a court appointed helper for Daniel.  Although French born Jehnny had a career as a musician in the United Kingdom.  She has 11 acting, 2 writing and 4 composing credits.

Messi the dog played a key role in the final decision.  At Cannes he won a special prize and at the Oscars he was given his own seat and appeared in the event video.

It is available on Prime, subtitled for the French parts, but with a lot of English dialogue.  It deserved the best original script Oscar (and many other awards).


Sunday, March 24, 2024

Two Documentaries that delve into the meaning of existence

Entertainment for many is a time filler, if not all the time much of the time.  Leisure to me can also be a time of contemplation.  Picasso; once said "Art is the lie that shows us the truth" and I would like to think there is some truth to it.  For many of us it is the actual verifiable facts that are necessary to make a decision.

It is hard to pin down facts (life, infinity) in the two documentaries chosen for this post, but they bring issues that all humans have thought of during their lives.  "Infinity:  What on Earth Are We Thinking?" talks about the incomprehensible and how it can make one feel.  More to the point "End Game" makes us think about our own end and that of others dear to us.  

Neither of these documentaries resolves the issues, but both make us think.

 Our pre historic ancestors looked at the stars without the advantage of modern knowledge.  What must they have thought?   As very young children at first we also saw the stars and must have thought similar thoughts.  As we grew older we learned they were very far away.  Some of us learned more about the distance and it humbled us.  Others recognized it was too hard to understand and tried not to think about it.

In "Infinity:  What on Earth are we thinking?" many astro physicist and a few philosophers speculate with a variety of theories.  The basic argument is about  whether there was a beginning or not.  Going back to our childhood many of us thought there must have been something before the beginning.  The Big Bang theory is accepted by many, but even here they wondered what happened before.  

Another aspect broiught out was the opposite, outer space  is one thing, but infinity also goes to micro level.  We once thought that an atom was the smallest "thing", but we have since learned that there are netrons and protons and now we learn there are smaller parts.    At some stage our scientists will conclude that they have reached the smallest size, but they and we will wonder if there is something even smaller..  We realize we are really an incomprehensible collection of smaller parts. 

I watched this on a TVO program over three weeks and recorded it.  I don't know where it would be available, but there are similar films that might be available on streaming services or at your library.  This version was created by Christopher Robin Collins. 

In the "End Game" we are shown a few patients who know their end is near.  We see a variety of reactions including with loved ones.  I remember the first time I heard the term palliative care it was with regard to my mother.  She accepted her fate, but wanted to see relatives and friends and my father arranged as best he could.  I confess I was uncomfortable.  Once when alone with her she asked if I could give her some water.  I was so nervous I ended on spilling some on her.  She handled it calmly and we tried again, this time more successfully.  She had difficulty talking (she had emphysema) she told me "you did good."  Those were her last words to me except for a concern she had for a sibling.

A definition of palliative care was offered "to live as good as you can for as long as you can."  Death should be natural.  My thoughts on burial  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/09/would-you-rather-be-burnt-mummified-or.html

One of the Doctors was B.J. Miller.  He had two artificial legs and was missing half of one arm.  He explained that that was due to a child hood accident which left him depressed at the time, but he came to accept himself as he was and moved on.  He felt palliative care suited him.

"End Game" is available on Netflix.  It was put together by the team of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Doctor Slump

If you like romantic comedy-dramas, Korea is one of the leaders.  The "Doctor Sllump" series has an element of romance, and comedy but also deals with depression  We are introduced to two rivals, one male and one female and both aiming to be doctors.  The woman is very ambitious, extremely disciplined and motivated to study while the guy, Jeong-woo also puts in study time he also manages to have fun.

They both move from Busan and graduate with high marks to become doctors in Seoul.  They keep their distance, but both run into serious problems.  The woman, Ha-neul deals with depression so bad she has to give up her work.  The guy is a victim of a criminal plot that makes it seem he caused a patient to die and is taken to court.  Circumstances led Jeong-woo to move to an upstairs apartment with Ha-Neul's family house.  There are lots of interactions between her family, her and him (and others).  You likely know where it progresses, but there are a few twists.

 Ha-neul chose Anesthesiology because her father underwent a lot of surgery and she was reassured by an anesthesiologist that he would make sure her father would not feel pain in the surgery.  I can not recall an anesthesiologist being a leading movie character.

Jeong-woo chose plastic surgery and is very conscientious about it, howeer some jealous colleagues set him up to be criminally charged for a surgical mishap to a wealthy patient.  He had to sell most of his possessions, quit his position and also felt depressed (but not like her).  Ha-neul realized the crime was not in character for her rival and got involved with overturning his case.  Other friends joined in the effort.

Ha-neul did see a psychiatrist, but was given a lot of support by Jeong-woo and friends.  She got back on her feet and the two of them are seen working on an international surgery. A saying at the end is "if there is sadness there is also happiness" symbolizing Ha-neul's journey.  She had thought depression doomed her, but with help of friends and a psychiatrist she was able to be happy and contribute to society.  

To make this an engaging and enjoyable series here are some of the contributors.

Hyun Jung-oh was the director.  He has10 film credits.

Sun Woo-Baek did the writing.  He has 5 film credit.

 Park Hyng-sik plays Jeong-woo.  He is a member of the Boy Band ZE.  He has 22 film credits.  

Park Shin-Hye plays Ha-neul.   She has 30 film credits including "The Beauty Inside" (2015), "My Annoying Broher"(2016) and "Memories of the Alhambra" (2018).

Yoon Park plays a medical friend.  He has 5 film credits.

Kong Seong-Ha played friend and secondary romantic partner.  She has  3 credit including "Daily Dose of Sunshine" (2023).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/11/daily-dose-of-sunshine.html

Jang Hye-jin played Ha-neul's mother   She has 23 credits  Including  "Crash Landing on You" (2019) and "Parasite" (2019),  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/02/crash-landing-on-you-very-addicting.html and http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/parasite-breaks-oscar-tradition.html

Hyun Bong-sik  plays an uncle, Tae Seun.  He has 27 film credits including "Hyena" (2020), "D.P." (2021), "Queenmaker" (2023) and "Killer Paradox" (2024). Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2024/03/a-killer-paradox.html

The romances will capture attention and both couples are likeable, but you will appreciate that depression can destroy a life.  Available on Netflix with subtitles.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Wil--stuck in the middle

"Wl" is one of the toughest movies to watch.  Not only does it depict brutal shooting, realistic torture with victims and bystanders puking, but you encounter choices no human should have to make.

During World War II some people were stuck in the middle.  While the Nazis occupied Antwerp, Belgium two locals had been granted some authority with the police force.  They were supposed to do what their Nazis superiors requested.  At the same time most of their sympathies lay with their fellow country citizens.  But some of their fellow citizens were collaborators and anti Semitic.  This led to lots of awkward situations and mixed loyalties.  Who can be sure who will win the war?  The stress resulted in a number of suicides from Jews anticipating Nazis horrors and Belgians who could not stomach what they were expected to do.  Betrayal was common in order to survive.

You will feel some of the stress of several  characters.  You hope they will do the right thing, but you are also afraid they will.  The cast and crew that created that feeling deserve some recognition.

Tim Mielants directed the film and also co-wrote the script.  He has directed Oscar winners Matt Damon and Cillian Murphy (in his first post "Oppenheimer" film).  He has 17 directing credits, 5 for writing and 1 for producing.

Carl Joos was a co-writer with 25 writing credits.

Geert Hellings wrote the music.  Surprisingly the music included Swing music, which Hitler disapproved of.  He has 5 film credits.

Robrecht Hayvaert handled the cinematography.  He has 40 credits for cinematography and 9 for camera and electric department.

Bert Jacobs did the editing.  He has 44 editing credits.

Stef Aerts played the title character Wil (short for Wilfried).  He was a founder of a theatre group, FC Bergman.  He has 24 film credits.

Matteo Simoni played the second police officer, Lode.  At the Berlinale Film Festival he was chosen Shooting Star 2018, one of the 10 most promising European actor.  He has 43 film credits.

Annelore Crollet played Yvette, Wil's girlfriend.  She has 14 acting credits.

Karina Smulders played Myriam who tried to escape.  Fro 2002-2012 she was an ensemble member of a theatre group performing in many plays.  She has 28 film credits including "Bride Flight" (2008).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/11/dutch-movies-are-hidden-gems.html  There is one paragraph about "Bride Flight" and sorts some of the confusion between Dutch and Flemish.

Jan Decleir played a character known as the Professor who tried to defy the Nazis.  Jan is the Belgian Sinterklaas (St. Nicolas) since 1993.  He has 143 film credits including "Antonia's Line" (1995) and "Character" (1997), both Oscar winners.  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/02/antonias-line.html

I cannot recommend this to those of you who might have a weak stomach for physical violence or emotionally stressful choices.  Otherwise it is thought provoking if you have ever wondered how people do react in stressful situations.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

To Kill a Tiger

"To Kill a Tiger" (2022) has won various festival awards and was nominated for an Oscar.  As a documentary it draws less attention, but  is very thought provoking.

At a small village in Jharkhand, India we quickly learn a 13 year old girl has been raped by 3 young identified men.  Her father wants the perpetrators to be punished, but runs into opposition.  A local leader suggested she marry one of the 3 rapists in protect the honor of the village. Further discussions reveal that both men and women in the village insisted she marry one of the rapists.  Fortunately a gender rights group decide to take up the case.  The 13 year old victim decides this behavior needs to be stopped and is willing to testify.  There is a long time consuming process before punishment is imposed.

Her father receives many threats during the process including to have his house burned down. 

Consequences should help deter future examples.  Marrying the victim carries the notion that it is okay.

In such an atmosphere trust is key.   As in much of the world most rapes are not reported.  The young girl does face ostracism, but remained determined to get justice.  Nisha Pahuja also had to earn trust as this intimate film reveals.

 In the west we may feel superior to a "backward" part of the world, but we also have problem dealing with sexual assault and harassment.  We may feel we have made progress, but the underlying thoughts are still part of the problem. The idea that the woman bears more responsibility by her choice of clothing and of behavior somehow obviates male responsibility.

The title comes from a local saying that it takes more than a single man to kill a tiger.   

Nisha Pahuja is director, writer, and producer.  Born in India, raised in Canada.  She studied English Literature at the University of Toronto.  After a meeting with Geeta Sondhi she was hired to do research for a documentary aired by the CBC.  From there her interest in documentaries led to making films.  She has 5 credits for each of directing, writing and producing.

Priyanka Chopra  Jonas stepped in to be an executive producer.  She has 80 credits as an actor, 16 as producer and 4 for music department including "Don" (2006), "Dostana"(2008), "Ra.One" (2011), "Barfi" (2012), "Mary Kom" (2014), "Dil Dhadakne Do" (2015), "The White Tiger" (2021)  and "Love Again" (2023) She produced and starred in my top film for 2019, "The Sky is Pink" (2019).  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/08/priyanka-chopra-from-bollywood-to.html

 Jonathan Goldsmith, wrote the music.  He has 103 credits for composing and 15 for music department including "Away From Her" (2006). 

Mrinal Desai did the cinematography.  He has 31 credits as a cinematographer and 6 under camera and electrical department including Oscar winner, "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008), "Court" (2014) and 4 episodes of "Frontline" (2011-2023). 

Editing was shared by David Kazaia and Mike Munn.  David has 28 editing credits while Mike has 55 credits including "Owning Mahowny" (2003).

 Available on Netflix either subtitled or dubbed.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Rethinking thoughts on the Middle East

October 7th  2023 brought forth a big shocking surprise as it was meant to.  This blog represent some further thinking on the situation.  The world at first sympathized with the Israelis, but only a bit later much of the world was ready to condemn Israeli authorities. There is a lot of history behind this event.  The Mid-East is a subject that evokes strong emotions.  The most underlying emotions are fear and hatred.  To a lesser degree guilt.  

The current situation is apt to escalate emotions.  A more basic problem is the need for better understanding particularly for the two main parties:  Israel and Palestinians.  A big part of the solution is to greatly increase understanding, not only to the immediate participants, but also to the rest of us.  I would like to quote Stephen Covey's fifth habit for highly effective people:  "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

 The Jews had been discriminated against in most of the world for millennium.  With the threats of Hitler many tried to escape to safer countries but encountered  resistance.  In Canada one quote from an unidentified government official when asked how many Jews were acceptable,  'None is too many"  The United States and other countries refused to accept  the M.S. St. Louis with Jewish refugees.  The Holocaust proved that the worst nightmares were more than true.  Since then there have been spurts of anti-Semitism in all quarters of the world.

Many western nations had blood on their hands and voted for an Israeli state.  And many realizing the hatred in Arab lands gave military support.  A huge factor, especially in America were Evangelicals.  Some were able to interpret Biblical passages to predict a second coming.  One believer told me that certain conditions had to be fulfilled first, one of which was that Jews had to be in control of the Holy Land.  There were enough who subscribed to these beliefs to impact U.S. elections such as in 2016 when Trump was elected..

What have Jews done to merit this hatred.  First they believed in one God while other religions worshiped a multitude of gods.  Christianity appropriated the concept.  As a whole they were not warriors, although some did turn to military means to protect themselves although not noted for wars of conquest.  They have been noted for  science, music, philosophy.

Money lending was one of the few opportunities they were allowed which in some circles added to hatred.

Westerners have long thought the Arabs were backward, but they forget who helped bring them through the Dark Ages.  Greek and Roman science and philosophy had been buried, but it was Arab scholars that re-discovered the rich cultures and spread them around.  They gave the world their own rich culture. including Arabic numbers, algebra,architecture, food, music, etc.

It surprised many Zionists when first reaching Palestine to learn there were actually more Arabs than they imagined.  There were always non Jews in the so-called Holy lands. The Zionists brought irrigation to the land as a survival mechanism.

Palestinians Arabs balked at the two states proposed by the United Nations.  They felt this was their land too.  They had been under Turkish and British domination for centuries.  Agreeing to fight for the British in World War I they felt  they had been promised independence over Palestine.  Arabs have been there for millennium. 

They feel they have been displaced from their rightful place.  Politics and military might have taken away most of their freedom and imposed restrictions.  Anyone would feel resentment and hatred

Arab dictators wanted to do business with the west when energy resources were discovered and learned that acceptance of Israel was part of the deal.  

Every assault on Jews and Israel adds to the fear.  The Munich Massacre, countless anti-Semitic killings and massacres only reinforced the fear.  On the other hand every restriction and humiliation placed on Palestinians built resentment.

At ground level it seems those on the Palestinian side had been taken over by those who felt violence (with added shock value) is the only solution to rid the hated Israeli landlords.  The response has been not only by politicians, but much of the Jewish population that their own solution is to obliterate those persistent Arabs.  Things may calm down a bit and perhaps more realistic thinking will progress, but the danger is that the situation of fear and hate will escalate.  

Politics is a big obstacle.  Politicians in democracies respond to voters.  They also provide information which can be factual, supportive or misleading, even hateful.  America who is a big financial and moral supporter found itself split.  Israel was having its own political stresses at its leadership level.  Some might speculate that Russia with its unjustified attack of Ukraine benefited from a diversion of attention.   Earlier policies advocating two states are being revived.

At the moment as I finish this blog it appears to be a political dilemma for Israel and the West.  Apparently many Israelis would like elections to force Netanyahu out to be replaced by not sure (possibly more right wing).  Any change in such a situation could be perilous.  In the west, there has been a slow recognition that Israel has been provocative, are aggravating a humanitarian crisis and that a two state solution does make sense.  Hostages are still being retained  although not sure how many of them are still alive. Whatever our leaders do they will offend part of their constituency.  Ukraine is suffering as to many they now seem a side issue. but that attitude could lead to consequences for Taiwan and eastern Europe.

Is there a solution to this fear and resentment?  Hatred and fear are inflammatory,

The goal should be to build up trust.  There are some people on both sides working towards that end.  Outside Israel the rest of us could set a better example.  Anti-semitism has been joined by Islamaphobia. 

Most of each side claims to want peace.  If instead of focusing on our enemies we joined with whoever was willing to help with  crucial international projects such as climate change, pollution, inequality, international hacking, drug trafficking and more.  Neglected these other concerns may do in humanity including Jews and Arabs.  Recognizing all humans enjoy sports, music and art can we not enjoy our favorite activities more.  One of the best and most popular players in British soccer is an Egyptian Muslim.  Muslims and Jews are in fact integrated into world wide sports and the world of the arts contains all religions.  

I remember watching the dominant Israeli wheelchair basketball team at the Paralympic Games held in Canada.  They had a lot of military amputee veterans which gave them an edge, but one not sought.

Religious leaders can set a tone.  Tolerate (and respect) each other.  Freedom of religion is closely related to freedom for everyone. Any inter faith efforts need to be well publicized.  It is not the Evangelicals that need to be catered to.

Jewish settlers in Palestine need to be curtailed and perhaps should be under the jurisdiction of Palestinians.  They have been a key provocative factor with support from their government.

Yuval Noah Harriri is a hero of mine.  He is one who does not think Jews are God's chosen people.  A Jewish scholar he has wide ranging views on humanity and has much to say about the Jewish place in the world some of which is covered in a previous blog:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/12/21-lessons-for-21st-century.html   Today he is a peace activist and is working at children's level as he sees them as our future.  One children's book is intended to deal with the feeling that life is unfair.

Is Israel a legitimate state?  Many Arabs don't think so.  Israelis feel this is their home where they should feel safe.

Everyone has their own set of prejudices, although few of us are willing to admit it.  Many are comfortable with the status quo while others want changes.  Here are a few perspectives.

http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/02/caste-origins-of-our-discontents.html

http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/06/prejudice-and-discrimination-survival.html 

Underlying the solution is to reduce fear.and hatred.  Politicians please take note.  Citizens set the example.  A better understanding of each other is a helpful step and then more hard work is necessary.

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED MORE THAN WE THINK

Monday, March 11, 2024

Anweshippin Kandethum

"Anweshippin Kandethum" (2024) is basically a cop movie with the slant of a cop who had been unfairly suspended and how he redeemed himself.   There are two murder investigations each seemed at a dead end until Sub Inspector Anand persisted to finding a critical clue.  In both cases he runs up against communal resistance and adopts a round about way of cornering the actual murderer.

 In the first case after unraveling a lot of obstacles to identify the murderer, the culprit under his custody escapes and is killed by running into a moving train.  His superior and three other police men are suspended.  A few years later his talent was recognized and he and the other three were assigned an almost forgotten case.  Again communal resistance and apparently all evidence discarded or dismissed.  Patience and attention to detail and another misleading round about interview are applied.  There is a small amount of action, but some impatient viewers will be tested.  For others it is very satisfying how the crimes are uncovered. 

Malaylam films have been perhaps the biggest surprise for me investigating what Netflix especially has to offer.  They have built up a library of work that have culminated in a number of masterpieces.  Here are a few of the contributors for

Darwin Kuriakose is director and producer for his first feature.  He and his twin brother Dolwin founded Theatre of Dreams production company and under Dowin had produced an earlier feature.  Darwin had worked under director Jinu Abraham.  Before 2021 Jinu started working on script for "Anweshippin Kandethum" and shared with Darwin who was able to make a few suggestions.  The Covid Pandemic blocked most of their efforts.  Dolwin is listed as another producer.

Jinu Abraham is the writer and producer.  He has 5 credits as a writer , 1 as director and 1 as producer.  In preparing for this script he researched police investigations and to ensure keeping to intentions brought in a senior police officer take a small role.

Santhosh Narayanan composed the music.  He graduated with a degree in BE Computer Science & Engineerng.  He became a recording engineer and once worked on soundtrack of A.R. Rahman.  He has 57 composing credits, 22 for music departmen (mostly as playback singer) and 3 as an actor.  One of his credits was for "Penguin" (2020).

Gautam Sankar is the cinematograher.  He has 8 film credits including"Theeram" (2017)

Saiju Sreedharan is the editor.  He has 14 editing credits plus 9 for the editing department including "Virus" (2019), "Kambalongi Nights" (2019) and "Joji" (2021).  He gets involved with sound design.  He is booked for 2 films as a director.

Tovino Thomas played Sub Inspector Anand.  He was a software engineer.  He has 48 credits as an actor, 4 as a producer and 1 as director assistant.   His credits include my second top movie for 2019 "Uyare" (2019), and"Virus" (2019), "Forensic" (2020), "Kilometers & Kilometers" (2020), "Kurup" (2021) "Minnal Murali" (2021) and "Vaashi" (2022).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/08/uyare-unexpected-gem.html

Siddique played a fellow police officer.  He received a diploma in electrical engineering and subsequenty worked in Kerala and Saudi Arabia.  He has 412 acting credits  and 2 as producer.  His films include "Ustad Hotel" (2012), "Drishyam" (2013), "Pulimurugan" (2016), "Parava" (2017), "CIA:  Comrade in America" (2017)"Uyare" (2019), "Drishyam 2" (2021), "Night Drive" (2022) and "Kasargold" (2022). "Virus" (2019) 

Indrans  played a former police officer who helped with he second case.  Indrans started his film career as a costume designer with 14 credits.   He has 453 acting credits including "Aalorukkam" (2018), "Virus" (2019), "#Home" (2021), "Padavettu" (2022) and "Patthu Janwar" (2022).  Although he mostly played supporting roles he was the leading character in my top film for 2022:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/05/home-comedic-clash-of-generations.html

Available on Netflix with subtitles.  This was a very satisfying movie carrying on high standards I expect with Malayalam cinema.   Check:http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/03/how-i-discovered-malayalam-cinema-and.html  

As is my habit I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Parades, a Japanese fantasy film on the afterlife

Most of us have regrets and in fact we take our unresolved regrets to our graves.  "The Parades" fancies how some of them might be handled.

We first see a young mother searching for her young boy after a natural disaster, a tsunami.  After a short while we realize that she is dead.  She is led to a group who in a round about way explain they are all in a similar situation.  Dead and with unresolved regrets.  In the next two hours or so we watch as they try to resolve their regrets.

One character, Michael is a film maker and throughout the story presents films that explain some of his regrets while helping others with theirs.  A big regret of his was leaving a woman he loved.  Towards the end the characters accept their situation and through some fantasy are able to alleviate their guilty feelings.  The film is dedicated to "Michael."

You may not be in the mood for such wanderings, but at some time they may help wake you up to your own regrets.  Earlier blogged about Daniel Pink's book on regrets that you might find helpful:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/06/the-power-of-regret.html

The story is gentle and the acting, music, cinematography and writing are top notch.  Here are some of the contributors.

 Michihito Fujji is the writer and director.  He has 29 credits as director 15 as a writer and 4 as producer.  "The Journalist" (2019) was one.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/01/the-journalist.html 

 Yojiro Noda handled the music.  He has 10 credits as an actor and 2 as a composer.   He was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for Radwimps. It is him singing during the end credits.

Kesuke Imamura is the cinematographer.  He has 22 cinematography credits.

Masami Nagasaw played the single mother at the beginning of the film.  She has 99 credits including "Our Little Sister" (2015).  She once learned Mandarin for a Taiwanese film. and was also a spokesperson for Taiwan Tourism in Japan.

Ryusei Yokahoma played aother of the dead regretters.  He has 54 credits including "The Journaist" (2019).  A member of a rock band, a karate champion at a young age and worked in theatre.

Lily Franky played Michael.  His unusual stage name comes "Franky Goes to Hollywood" and from his university affiliation.  He has 96 acting creits and 4 for writing.  His features include "Like Father, Like Son" (2013), "Our Little Sister" (2015" and "Shoplifters" (2018).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/03/japanese-movies-are-more-than-godzilla.html discusses "Like Father, Like Son" along a variety of other Japanese films.

"The Parades" is available on Netflix, subtitled or dubbed.

As is my usual habit I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Voter's Rights

The idea behind voting is that an eligible voter indicates what candidate or a set of policies they wish to support.  The effort should be rewarded by counting towards their choice.  In reality most votes don't do that.  In fact it is common for most votes to be wasted in jurisdictions.  This suits some people just fine.

At one time it seemed like there were only two parties to be concerned with.  There may have been other parties, but they were mostly fringe and had no real power.  Many voters would have preferred a non contender.  Some were concerned that a detested party would get in and so they needed to vote for a party that was not their first choice to prevent the detested party from winning.

In the United States there are periodic debates about spending money for a third party because the two main parties are not satisfactory.  Inevitably one of the two main parties suffers more than the other, but one of them does win and the third party does not win.  Third parties offer more choice for voters

Not every nation uses our system of first past the post that too often distorts the will of the people often with unhappy results.  In Ontario one party is in control while three other parties combined to have more votes, but with policies literally opposed to the controlling party.

By itself that may seem unfair, but there is more.  Politicians have figured out that some geographic areas favor them and other areas don't.  The analysis of that can be pretty sophisticated telling politicians where to spend their time and their money.  Many politicians find they gain attention by going overboard criticizing their opponents.  A likely problem is that they would find it difficult to co-operate with their opponents when they have mutual problems.  

In a proportional system each voter can vote for their first choice.  Instead of one victor in a riding at least some of the votes would be counted towards a larger jurisdiction such as nation or province or states.  There might only be a small percentage of some parties in a voting district but combined  with other voting districts they could have some power in the bigger jurisdiction.  If one party has more than 50% of the winners they of course have the most power.  More often no one receives a majority and they have to split the power, which means they cannot ignore the choices of other voters.

Voting should be easy as we want everyone to take their responsibility.  This means that days and hours have to reflect availability of a variety of people.  Online or mail in votes would also extend ease of voting especially shut-ins.  Voting locations can also be a factor in ease of voting. 

As more voters realize their vote can make a difference they will be more inclined to study the issues.  Voters cannot be forced to take their vote seriously or even to vote.  My belief is that a proportional representational system encourages people to take their vote seriously and also that the winning representatives to take their roles more seriously and work more cooperatively.

A previous blog of an American political  book points out that the other side of rights is obligations, even if they are not enforceable  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/12/the-bill-of-obligations.html

In pre historic days followers chose who they followed and had ways of replacing unsatisfying leaders.  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/07/selected.html  Are you really free if your vote can be ignored?   Proportional representation offers a way to boost your freedom.  Check it out.

12th Fail

 The world too often seems like a dishonest one.  Despite sayings like "Cheaters Never Prosper" cheating seems like the most certain way to get ahead.  "12th Fail" is based on a true story where one man was able to succeed honestly despite a slew of obstacles. 

It starts in a small Indian village where cheating is a way of life.  We are shown a teacher giving answers to an upcoming exam.  The police approach and are handed a large amount of money.  The police reject the bribe and take away the teacher.  He had explained that no harm was done, that his students would get some sort of menial job and life would go on.  

Manoj Sharma, the protagonist had cheated, but he felt his father's honesty had been punished.  Complaining to DSP Dushyant Singh he was listened to but the advice was simply not to cheat.  The advice was taken to heart and impacted Manoj's life.  He refined his goal to being an ISP police officer, but the odds are overwhelming.

With almost no money he kept asking questions, offering to do menial labor and above all being honest.   He is guided to the need for coaching and at first runs into a dishonest one, but he meets his future girl friend, Shraddha there.  Coaching in critical and he lands with a more honest one, but there is much hard slogging.  His coach is one who has failed in the tests, but passes on what he has learned.  Manoj fails 12 times, partly because he cannot study as much as needed.  All the time he is told to take short cuts, but he sticks to his plan.  At the end he is questioned and tells the blunt truth.  The head interviewer doubts and mocks his honesty, ut other interviewers recognize his honesty is very refreshing. 

Helping him are a few friends and above all Shraddha who comes from a higher caste.  Except for one misunderstanding she sticks with him through thick and thin.   In the end he passes and we see him as an honest police officer who upturns others being dishonest.  Based on a true story it has been uplifting for its viewers.

At the time of researching for this blog IMDB had a high rating of 9.1 from over  101,000 raters.  Pretty impressive, but the film does seem to merit an exceptional rating. Here are some of the people responsible.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is the director and co writer and co-editor.  He has 18 credits as a writer, 18 as a producer and 12 as a director.  His credits include "Parinda" (1989), "1942: A Love Story" (1994), "Mission Kashmir" (2000), "Munna Bhai M.B.B.S." (2003)  "Eklavya" (2007), "3 Idiots" (2009) and "PK" (2014),  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/03/pk.html

Jaskunwar Kohli is a co-writer and co-editor.  He has 6 credits with the camera and electrical department, 5 for cinematography and 5 for editor.

Shantanu Moitra provided the music.  He has 51 credits for composing and another 11 for music department.  His credits include   "Laaga Chunari Mein Daag" (2007) "3 Idiots" (2009), "Lago Rao Munna Bhai" (2006), "Inkaar" (2013), "Madras Cafe" (2013), "PK" (2014), "Pink" (2016) and "October" (2018).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/11/pink-sensitive-film-to-deal-with-consent.html

Rangarajan Ramabadran is the cinematographer.  He has 15 credits including "Ek Ladk Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga" (2019).

Vikrant Massey played Manoj Sharma.  He has 39 film credits including "Dil Dhadakne Do" (2015), "Ginny Weds Sunny" (2020), "Chhapaak"(2020) and "Hassen Dillruba" (2021).

Medha Shankr played the loyal girl friend Shraddha.  She has been a model and a singer.  She has 6 credits.

Joshi Anantvijay played a friend who helped with money and encouragment.  He has 10 credits including "Cobalt Blue" (2022) and "Kathal:  A Jackfruit Mystery" (2023).

Anshuman Pushkar, played Gauri, the failed coach who nonetheless was helpful.  Trained in the theater.  He has 6 film credits.

Priyanshu Chatterjee played DSP Dushyant Singh, the police officer who stressed the importance of not cheating and re-directed Manoj's goal.  He has 56 acting credits including "Tum Bin...Love will Find a Way" (2001) and "Bhoothnath" (2008).

Mukesh Chhabra helped with the casting.  For all the significant roles there was a requirement for at least 35 actors to test with the one exception being for the role of Manoj Sharma.  After studying acting he spent over six years teaching and acting.  He is noted for bringing such faces as Rajkummar Rao, Sushant Singh Rajpt, Mrunal Thakur, Prateik Gandhi, Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh to the screen.  He has 223 credits for casting (+ 29 for the casting department and 29 for acting) including "Amal" (2007), "Kai Che Po" (20130, "Wrong Side Raju" (2016), "Mom" (2017), "Sacred Games" (2018-19), "Sanju" (2018), "Notebook" (2019), "The Family Man" (2019), "Dil Bechara" (2020), "Laal Singh Chaddha" (2022) and "Dunki" (2023). For a film where Mukesh had a lasting impression check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/05/kai-che-po.html

This film is capable of inducing tears and wild cheering.  Available subtitled on Netflix.

Friday, March 1, 2024

A Killer Paradox

The plot starts innocently enough.  A young man, Lee Tang is put in an awkward situation with an inebriated man attacking him and accidentally kills him.  He is horrified and runs away.  Shortly after he learns the man was wanted by the law for violent crimes.  Soon he is approached by a woman who had pretended to be blind and witnessed the death.  She attempts to blackmail him and he resists and she ends up dead.  Here the story gets complicated involving a very sharp intuitive police detective with his own agenda Jang Nan-gam, and an accomplice, Roh Bin  with another agenda and another police detective Song Chon also with an agenda.  Other characters (including a dog) confuse the issues more.  Corruption and taking justice to oneself are throughout.  Another good Korean series.

The original killing was not intended and the killer was ready to turn himself in when he learned the victim had been a serial killer.  The blackmailer was a haughty woman with no morals and her killing was accidental.  An observer felt the killer did justice and wanted to support the killer, eventually directing him to murders of other evil people.  The detective felt an intuitive connection between seemingly random deaths, but we learn he has an ulterior motive involving a fellow police officer.  The plot gets very complicated, but is well handled.

Every episode progresses the plot and there are constant surprises including right up to the end.  Violence and sex are more common than usual Korean tv., but not excessive.

To hold your attention takes a talented cast and crew.  Here are some of the contributors.  It was not easy getting information from my normal American sources.

Chang-hee Lee was the director with 3 directing credits and one for writing.

Kim Da-min adapted the script from a web toon.  She has studied psychology and cultural anthropology.  She has two writing credits and two for directing.

Park Se-seung was listed as cinematographer.

Choi Woo-sik stars as Lee Tang, an accidental murderer.  At age 10 his family had emigrated to Coquitlam, British Columbia where he studied at Simon Fraser University.  He left to audition in Korea.  He quickly got roles in "Train to Busan" (2017) and then an American-Korean joint project, "Okja" (2017).  He got a key role in Oscar winner, "Parasite" (2019) where he also got to sing a song during the closing credits.  He now has 37 film credits.   Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/parasite-breaks-oscar-tradition.html

Sun Suk-ku played Jang Nan-gam, the intuitive detective.  He has 15 acting credits and one each for directing and writing.  Films include "Designated Survivor:  60 Days" (2019),  "D.P." (2021) and "My Liberation Diary" (2022).  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/04/dp-stands-for-deserter-pursuit.html

Lee Hee-joon played Song Chon the second police man independently chasing Lee Tang.  He has 45 acting credits including "Vincenzo" (2021).

Kim Yo-han played Roh Bin, the very active accessory for Lee Tang.  Basically ignored by IMDB he is definitely one of the four key roles.  He has 6 film credits.

Hyun Bong-sik plays Park Choog-jin, another detective.  He has 27 film credits including "Hyena" (2020), "D.P." (2021), "Queenmaker" (2023) and "Doctor Slump" (2024) which will be blogged later this month.  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/05/queenmaker.html

Oh Hye-won played a female profiling police officer  She has 8 film credits including "Designated Survivor:  60 Days" ( 2019).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/designated-survivor-60-days-remake-of.html

Thinking back on this series (Netflix subtitled and dubbed) this is a complex engaging film.

The first mention of movies I have seen is bolded.