Documentary: “California Typewriter”

21032751_1965785847022028_1477658988198835929_n California Typewriter (2017)

Narrated by Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard and David McCullough, among others, “California Typewriter” is an insightful documentary about the particular loss which technological advances are capable of causing. One small family-run business in California revolves around the selling and mending of typewriters, and still believes in the power and value of typewriters in today’s world, which has become dominated by personal computers and digital technologies. Through the interviews held with various people, we realise the particular value which typewriters can still bring into this world as well as get to know the fascinating history of typewriters.

Growing up around typewriters, this documentary resonates with me personally and makes a very persuasive argument about the value embedded in old technological processes and machines that we leave behind. “California Typewriter” opens with the crime scene of a typewriter being intentionally destroyed by a speeding car in 1963, and from that point on, as the narrator says, a typewriter stopped being one thing and became something totally different. This scene cuts to a present small Californian business that still sells typewriters – California Typewriter. The head of this business is Herbert L. Permillion, III, while their star Kenneth Alexander is a master of typewriters’ repair. Obviously, the business is not doing well, and its failure to generate enough interest in typewriters is contrasted with Apple’s new products launch events where the frenzy and long queues for new Ipads start the day before at night. Then, we meet people who are still in love with their typewriters (an avid typewriters collector, a song-writer, a book-writer and a metal sculptor), and hear why they prefer their machines to any other alternatives. And, there is even the Boston Typewriter Orchestra that performs music on old typewriters!

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“The Florida Project” Review

florida-project (1)

The Florida Project (2017)

Sean Baker, director of “Tangerine” (2015), has produced something special – a powerful, unforgettable film about the innocence, joys, freedoms and wonders of childhood played out in the context of social and economic exclusion in Florida, US. “The Florida Project” has been very unjustly ignored by the Academy in the forthcoming Best Picture Oscar race, an omission which is incomprehensible. “The Florida Project” is about a little girl Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) who lives with her young mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a simple motel with a big name “The Magic Castle” overshadowed by a large Disney resort. Moonee goes on happily with her daily activities full of wonder and mischief, barely registering the true hardship and deprivation which stalk economically-disadvantaged in the area.

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“Downsizing” Review


Downsizing (2017)

Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing” has the recipe to become one of a kind movie – thought-provoking, funny and engaging. In the film, Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) are a couple who decide to undergo a revolutionary “downsizing” procedure to become four inches’ tall people and, from then on, not only instant millionaires, but also the ones contributing to making environment better by reducing their carbon footprint. This fascinating concept and such stars as Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and Kristen Wiig all promise a cerebral, astute social satire. What “Downsizing” ends up being? A disappointment. Strangely deviating from its own fascinating concept of small people, the second half of the film shouts bewildering environmental and political messages befitting more a climate or migration documentary, rather than a quality comedy/science-fiction film.

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Lost in Translation: Film Titles Gone Astray

Movie titles are important for marketing, and the correct translation of a movie title, taking into account cultural sensitivity, contributes to making that movie a success. It is more surprising, therefore, that some English-language titles are being translated in such a way that leads to all sorts of problems, and at best, may sound very funny and cause confusion. Below, I will present some of those titles, focusing on those titles translated for the benefit of Russian, French and Spanish-speaking audiences.  

Russian Silver Lining Poster

  1. Silver Linings Playbook – Russian Translation: Мой парень – псих – literal meaning: My boyfriend – a loony. 

This has to be one of the most ridiculous title translations. There is nothing subtle about the Russian title of this film, and the title suggests a cheap comedy flick, rather than a more sophisticated movie which is refreshing, layered and solidly acted.

    2. Limitless – Russian Translation: Области тьмы – literal meaning: Zones of darkness.

Not much thought was spent considering this title translation. “The Dark Fields“, the US film’s working title and the original title of the book the film is based upon, was translated, but it still did not make a lot of sense. The title emphasis should have been on the super-powers of the hero, but, instead, the title suggests this is either some UFO-abduction or a mysterious crop circles’ story.  

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“The Shape of Water” Review

the-shape-of-water-french-movie-posterThe Shape of Water (2017)

Words lie, but looks don’t…When you fall in love, you fall in love, absolutely, all at once, all-in. It’s a miracle” (Guillermo del Toro).  

“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere” .

This tale of unlikely love between the Princess without Voice or Elisa and the creature from the Amazon has been nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and there are good reasons for this furore. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)) has finally made the movie he wanted to make for a long time. Del Toro merges different cinematic genres (fantasy, drama and romance), while paying tribute to black-and-white Hollywood musicals and B-movie monsters, to produce a movie which is almost faultless in its directional execution, acting and emotional content. The director draws on a number of sources to tell the unlikely love story which, among many other things, portrays and sympathises with the lives of the “underdog” minority, and engagingly sets out the high-pressure conditions of living in the times of the Cold War. 

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Plagiarism claim: Jean-Pierre Jeunet accused Guillermo del Toro of copying his scene from “Delicatessen” and his concept from “Amelie” for film “The Shape of Water”


A number of newspapers and news sources (such as IndieWire, DailyMail) reported that French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet accused Guillermo del Toro of copying one of his scenes from his movie “Delicatessen” (1991) for del Toro’s latest film “The Shape of Water“. Moreover, Jeunet accused del Toro of copying the character of Amelie from “Amelie” (2001) for “The Shape of Water“. In particular, there is a scene in Jeunet’s movie “Delicatessen” where Louison (Pinon) and Plusse (Viard) appear “dancing” to music while sitting on a bed. In “The Shape of Water“, the characters played by Hawkins and Jenkins also perform a step-dance while sitting on a sofa. As for “Amelie“, the French director claims that the concepts of a shy and naive girl, a painter and an apartment were lifted off straight from “Amelie” to make “The Shape of Water“. The Mexican director defended himself by saying that it was Terry Gilliam who influenced both Jeunet and himself. 

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The O Canada! Blogathon: Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World (2016)

It’s Only the End of the World (2016)

fid17267This is my second post for the amazing O Canada! Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings  and Kristina of Speakeasy (check out some of the amazing entries here). 

There I was…after twelve years of absence, and in spite of my fear, I was going to visit them. In life, there are a number of motivations…that force you to leave, without looking back. And there are just as many motivations that force you to return. So after all those years, I decided to retrace my steps. Take the journey…to announce my death.”  Such are the thoughts of a young man named Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) as he takes a plane journey to visit his estranged family after twelve years of absence. Louis suffers from a terminal illness, which means that death is at his doorstep. Few directors working today can convey the depth of emotion through a cinematic lense as masterfully as Xavier Dolan can, and “It’s Only the End of the World” is yet another film which is a proof of that statement. In this movie, Dolan demonstrates that he can exercise visual restraint, but “It’s Only the End of the World” still ends up being as potent, emotionally-moving and convincing as his previous work.

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Steve J Donahue

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