Friday, April 25, 2008


As far as I am concerned, cinema exists primarily to watch films like Tony Gatlif’s Transylvania. It is full of life, love and loss, pain and sorrow, music and dance, culture and superstition. No-one with a heart can help but be moved by this ode to life and the Romany way.

Gatlif has made a career of showcasing the Romany, the culture of the gypsies. Credited with writing, co-writing and arranging virtually all the music in Transylvania, he clearly has a love of music that is infused within his films. This latest effort depicts a woman (Asia Argento) who leaves France and travels to Romania in search of her boyfriend, a gypsy musician.

The infusion of music and dance into the story is pure cinema magic. The cinematography, use of light and use of imagery are all magnificent. The choice of actors, both professional and non-professional, is excellent. Their comings and goings within the film are unpredictable, adding to the believability of the story, as crazy as it gets at times.

Asia Argento really is the star of the film. Her passion, strength and intensity are at the core of the story. Her rendition of gypsy womanhood as Zingarina is for me a landmark performance.

Transylvania is a French, Romanian, English, Hungarian and Italian co-production, which is reflected in the use of a number of languages used in the film (French, Romanian, English and others).

Gatlif showcases the bleak yet beautiful countryside and rural decay of forgotten lands, depicting a way of life that is slowly dying. His love for this culture and respect for those who are part of it is evident, and his depictions of it are electric, exhilarating and moving. The film’s ending is amazing.

I’m on a good run at the moment. This is the third film in less than a week that has brought tears to my eyes. Sharing some themes with the excellent, The Edge of Heaven, which I saw last weekend, this is a superior and more eclectic film. For me, this is close to as good as a film gets and is my equal favourite for the year so far, along with Paranoid Park. There is so much to like about it and I can’t use enough superlatives. This is must-see cinema.

For a number of reasons, the Kino Dendy cinema is my favourite cinema in Melbourne, though I see many more films at ACMI. The quality of Kino’s programming has declined in recent years, screening more and more middle-of-the-road French and other films. But then, this is pretty much true across the whole spectrum of current cinema. Gatlif’s films typically screened at the Lumiere before it disappeared a few years ago, and it’s reassuring to see Dendy pick up this more eclectic film.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Regular visitors may wonder why my posts have been few and far between. Well, I started a new job in December, and I've been fairly focused on that. Some of my previous jobs had less demands on me and allowed the luxury of writing during quiet times. More significantly, I've had some health issues that I'm addressing. Previously I would stay up to post regularly, to the detriment of my sleep. This has had deleterious effects that I'm now paying for. I'm still not getting enough sleep, but I've improved.

For what it's worth, I've started commuting to work by bicycle, a half-hour or so ride. The lack of exercise has also been an issue, and this is a way of forcing myself to exercise an hour a day. I started with once a week and am now up to four days a week (my theoretical maximum). I've got a long way to go to get my health and fitness to where I want to be - and a bit of weight-loss would be nice, too - but it's a good start.

So, there's a number of posts I've been late with, like my regular Week in Review (I still haven't posted for last week). I'm also way overdue with a post for the Festival of German Films. I started writing a preview long before the festival started, and it's nearly over without me posting. I'll get around to that this long weekend, I expect.

I did see a magnificent new release today, Transylvania, and I'll post on that shortly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Across the Universe

A link to this YouTube clip was posted on At The Movies. It's one of the best covers, by one of my favourite Beatle songs, and the video clip is just amazing. It brings me to tears. I also love Fiona Apple's music. The music is from the Pleasantville soundtrack. I post it here for my enjoyment and yours.
[Edit: if you're having trouble seeing it below, check it out at YouTube]