Yay Romanian Pride!


Recently, a friend referred this film to me and although I am very interested in Romanian cinema and especially films from the Romanian “New Wave” (internationally recognized films from 2005-today) I had never heard of this one until she told me about it. I’m so glad she told me about it. And now I’m telling you about it.

Balanta/The Oak (1992)-dir. by Lucian Pintilie

It was just as hilarious and strange as my friend described it, if not more. The style, aesthetics, and plot are way different from most of the “new wave” films of today, although I would say that that NBD (no big deal), shoulder-shrugging attitude that goes hand-in-hand with bleak, black-humour and is very reminiscent of post-communist Romania is still very present in this film.

[On a side note, I realized the main actress, Maia Morgensten, plays Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the “Passion of the Christ”]

I don’t want to give away the storyline, but I do want to put it out there that, if you plan to watch it, you just might be shocked by the dark humor and strange relations between people in the film.

In the world of this film (which very much resembles my experiences in Romania): Drama is pretty much thrown out the window…the camera takes on several perspectives, switching throughout the film, and barely reveals which characters it sides with, remaining mostly observational and neutral. Almost nothing is a big deal, anything can be laughed at or trivialized, because the harsh reality of life is just not worth facing. The film’s attitude is similar to that of other Romanian films in how it is neither sympathetic nor condemning…if anything, this characteristic, combined with the dark humor, seems to form somewhat of a loose Romanian-esque style.

Its really interesting how the plot starts out with grief, depression, and even nostalgia, but abruptly shifts into a light, funny, or ironic mood…this quick transition happens often in the film, which makes the main characters seem just slightly schizo… :p

The film is, obviously, rich in political discourse…there’s a very lively scene towards the end (which is also HILARIOUS, especially if you are Romanian or have been around Romanian family parties/gatherings) in which questions of capitalism, the economy of Romania, and religion get thrown around in a friendly debate..of sorts. You can watch the scene here, if you have a few minutes to spare: (i just realized there aren’t any subtitles in this clip, but there are english subtitles in the full length movie on youtube)

OMG THE DIALOGUE. I wanted to take so many screenshots of great lines, and totally absurd conversations, but they’re hard to catch in just one shot…the attitude towards the military is really great…in that it mostly pokes fun and doesn’t take anything they do seriously. In fact, there is a scene in which they are represented as cowardly and mindless. They randomly drop in to the characters’ lives and always interrupt the main storyline.

It was really fun to watch. It is definitely the most strangest Romanian film I have ever seen…the characters constantly take you by surprise and all the randomness seems welcomed and expected in the world of the film. Sometimes, the plot just takes a brief tangent and lingers there and it just adds to the density of the story and landscape.

So, since I should stop before I start rambling about the themes of violence and class politics in the film, I will simply recommend this to everyone.
You can easily watch it on Youtube with English subtitles.


Even More Laughs.

I know it’s not a “film”, but 30 Rock is one of my favorite TV shows EVER (alongside The Office & Mad Men).

It’s no surprise that Tiny Fey created the show as the absolutely genius writing and a distinctively clever sense of humor are the show’s trademarks, as well as the brilliant cast, which includes the unapologetically bold (and hilarious) Alec Baldwin.

(episodes are on Netflix but it plays on NBC on Thursday evenings)

If you’re into witty, satirical and sometimes totally absurd comedy, get into this show.

Here’s a clip of some great Liz Lemon moments (bad quality, I know). They get so much more ridiculous than this, but you’ll have to watch some of the episodes to know what I mean! 😉

Hat’s Off to These Dudes

I can’t help but get all nostalgic and smiley when I see quick little timelines like this.

A Brief History of Title Design from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.

While I applaud at the evolution of Title Design in Film & TV, I can’t help but also be reminded of the importance of Cinema in our lives (or maybe just MY life?). Growing up, it was one of the few treasured pleasures that I had. Whether it was the DVD rentals that my dad would get every weekend or the midday re-runs of classics on TV, I always knew there was something fresh and exciting that was waiting to be watched and absorbed into my brain.

Yes, this may sound like another kid who grew up on too much television (and that’s probably right!) but I would like to point out this: like the many, many books and short stories I read in my childhood and adolescence, film was simply another medium that helped to feed and develop my observational skills, creativity and love for storytelling. I could go on and on in written gratitude for what I was exposed to in my life, but I’m sure everyone who had similar upbringings knows what I’m getting at.

I just hope that more people begin to realize the art in Film & TV and not treat these mediums like a cheap fast-food burger that you gobble down and forget about in a few minutes. Sure, some works and genres may serve just that sort of purpose, but, as one who is in the habit of extracting meaning and truth from all aspects of life, I will always encourage the act of “reading between the lines” in film.

In any case, I don’t think its a waste of time (what does that expression even mean anyway?).

I salute you, Film and Television!