lunedì 21 aprile 2014

Doctor Who - Touched by an Angel


                                                Doctor Who - Touched by an Angel
                                        The Future is not written, sometimes neither the Past.  

In 2003, Rebecca Whitaker dies in a car accident. In 2011 her husband Mark is still grieving. He receives a battered envelope, posted eight years ago, containing a set of instructions with a message: "You can save her". Another thing makes the envelope weirder : it seems written by his own handwriting. From that moment Mark starts to see a statue of an angel on every screen he encounters. A man who call himself  "The Doctor" with a girl and a boy tells to him that is not a statue but a Weeping Angel and what it wants is to send him back to his own past. Mark have the chance to save Rebecca but why this is happening to him? What's the plan of the Weeping Angel? What happens if he save his wife?
Usually the books made for a franchise created for a media -cinema, comic books or, as in this case, Tv Show- are not so good: mostly they are a mere celebration of the characters born on the main franchise's product with pretty weak stories and poorly written secondary characters. Mainly this products are just for fans but Jonathan Morris with "Touched by an angel" , part of the Doctor Who's franchise, made something quite different. 
Morris understood a simple but extremely important lesson: is quite impossible for readers to identify themselves with characters like The Doctor, they need someone closer to them. The main character of this book is not the Doctor but Mark, an average guy who has the chance to save the love of his life. Readers can identify themselves with him, fear for his safety and joy with him. During all the story the Doctor is on the backgroound except in the end when he returns to save the day. Johnatan Morris use the Sci-fi to tell about human life in his developement. Touched by an Angel is an excellent example of how a writer can tell an intresting story no matter how old or complicated is the franchise.
Touched by an Angel can be liked even from those whom are not Doctor Who's fans and yet it will make the whovian happy too.

domenica 6 aprile 2014

The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

                                     The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
                                        The most dangerous place is our childhood

A middle-aged man returns by accident to his childhood home. He start walking towards the lane in front of his former house and whitout thinking he comes to the Farm at the end of the lane, Hempstock Farm. 

Here is welcomed by an old lady that resembles the grandmother of Lettie, a girl who was his childhood friend but it can't be her because Thirty years has passed. How can be her if she don't seems aged a bit? Beyond the farm there‘s a small duck pond where he start to reminiscing his past. But the past is not always as we rember it and sometimes monsters and marvels are hiding in it.
Neil Gaiman is worldwide known for is acclaimed and award winning comic books series, the Sandman, in which he describe the story of the lord of the dreams, combining myths, stories and ordinary people. This mix is one of Gaiman's distinguishing features and the Ocean at end of the lane has it too. Gaiman is able to make a miracle: give back to the reader the point of view of a twelve years old. Trowing back the readers in a time when a courtyard was a pirate ship, or when a weeded wild garden was a dangerous Jungle, when the life was full of magic and fears. Another one of the Gaiman's distinguishing features is that the human beings are more important than all the myths and magics. This concept stated with Sandman but it's became clearer from his book American Goods in which Gaiman portrays a series of acient goods who lives amongst humans disguised like them, because they‘ve lost their powers as people gives gods strenghts if they believe in them.
Gaiman, the Tardis (Suranne Jones) and the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)

It's not like the human race exist because the gods exists, but the opposite: the gods exists because the human race believes in them. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane Gaiman adopts this concept one more time and make it more ambiguous: the creatures from another world are connect to ours by our history. This book have some influences that are new for Gaiman's style: his rapresentation of childhood was similar in Coraline but this time it seems influenced by Sthepen King's It and Clive Barker's The Thief of Always and the first volume of Arabat, in fact this time the horror elements are more relevant. So, The Ocean at the end of the lane is a book for a reader who wants to revive is childhood and is not afraid of what can be found in it.

A review by Davide Schiano di Coscia 

lunedì 24 marzo 2014

City of Thieves or a buddy comedy in wartime

                            City of Thieves by David Benioff
                                              A buddy comedy in wartime

WWII. During the nazi's siege of Leningrad, the young Lev Beniov is arrested for looting a corpse of a frozen german soldier and put in a cell with Kolya, A handsome deserter and oddly obsessed with literature. It's certain death for both of them in front of the rifle of the red army but suddenly they have an opportunity to save their lives: they'll be to set free if can find a dozen eggs for thewedding cake of a powerful Soviet Colonel’s daughter. For Lev it's the beginning of the more dangerous and interesting days of his life: travelling under the guidance of Kolya, Lev will discover much about life and about himself.
David Benioff is well known for his book "The 25th Hour" on which Spike Lee based the movie with the same name; Benioff is also known for his work on the HBO show, "Games of Thrones".
In City of Thieves Benioff takes the memory told to him by his grandfather and makes a weird version of the World War II: usually in stories based on the WWII the tone is serious, pompous and rhetoric and self celebrative (the last one is mainly an attribute of the american Blockbuster) but Benioff introduces something different, irony.
George R.R. Martin and David Benioff 
His characters are brilliant and the dialogues have a really good rhythm and are punctuated with humourous jokes. The tone isn't always light and the change in relation with the situation: Benioff is not a stupid and knows about what he can makes joke about and what he cannot.
The tone of the book is a weird mix of the strange character Pynchon's Style and of the adorable losers of Graham Greene: there's no place for A hero here, just for stupid, presuntuos, greedy, needy, beautiful human beings.

In conclusion "City of Thieves" is a really good book if you are sick of all the blockbusters about WWII, and you're looking for something different, something with less heroism and more humanity in it!

lunedì 17 marzo 2014

The Royal Tenenbaums or 8 Characters in search of a proper way to express their emotions

                          8 Characters  in search of a proper way to express their emotions
                                                   a Review by Davide Schiano di Coscia
Tune your Ipod to These Days of Nico and let's have a look at the Story Line.
We have a family composed of very talented and oddly disturbed people: there is Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hachman in one of his best roles in the past twenty years),  A former sucsessful Lawyer, selfish childish and rejected by his wife because  of his continued unfaithfulness; His former wife Etheline, played by Anjelica Houston, then there are theirchildren, Richie, A former tennis player, portrayed by an implausible and emotional Luke Wilson, who  is in love with his stepsister Margot, an imperturbable Gwyneth Paltrow,  A former acclaimed author of plays, who is married to a famous psychiatrist Raileigh Sinclair (an unusual sober Bill Murray). The last of the Tenenbaum is Chas Tenenbaum (with this character Ben Stiller gives his best performance ever),  A former financial genius obsessed with  the safety of his family, father of two children, Uzi and Ari. To complete the picture there are two more characters: Eli Cash (Owen Wilson),  A successfull writer of western tales and the best friend of Richie and the secret lover of Margot, Herny Sherman (Danny Glover), who is about to get married to Etheline. Royal cannot stand at this marriage and comes up with a plan to regain his family's love. This plot will reunite all the Tenenbaums under the same roof and the consequencies will be really unpredictable. As the reader can see the most important word in the plot is "former": almost every character  is a former something or someone, this characteristic is underlined by their clothes because they wear the same clothes they were wearing when they were children.
At first glance this can seem a mere curiosity but if you watch more closely, you will understand this is an important aspect of the psychology of the characters. All the characters are Emotionally frozen: they can seemimpassible and cold but they are all driven by their emotions which haven't changed since they were children. This block is the reason why they are all former somethings: they are all living live as prisoners of their past ,they're all prisoners of  their past emotions, of their past obsessions. 
In the hand of another director these ingredients may well become an unbearable Over sweet mess but Wes Anderson transforms all these repressed feelings, all these disturbed characters into an astonishing masterpiece, Anderson does with this movie something unseen before: using a really accurate and colourful settings, a superb soundtrackwhich mixes classical music and music of the 60s and the 70s, a bunch of the best actors of their generations and an incredible cutting the director tells the story of these  peopleas if it's a storybook.
In conclusion The Royal Tenenbaums is an amazing movie from which a new definition of cinema was created. If you  haven't seen it yet, stop everything you're doing and go to watch it! And i mean you have to watch it now! 


domenica 2 febbraio 2014

Rec di Jaume Balaguerò e Paco Plaza

Una reporter e un cameraman si recano in una caserma dei pompieri per riprendere come si svolge una nottata di servizio per il programma "Quando tu dormi". La serata trascorre tranquillamente finché non arriva una chiamata d'emergenza e la giornalista e il cameraman si recano a seguito dei pompieri al palazzo da dove è arrivata la chiamata. Qui trovano tutti gli inquilini radunati nell'atrio del palazzo e due poliziotti già sul posto. Il motivo della chiamata si rivelano essere delle urla strazianti provenienti da uno degli appartamenti. Quando i pompieri e i poliziotti riescono a entrare nell'appartamento si ritrovano davanti all'origine delle urla: una signora anziana completamente ricoperta di sangue. Approfittando di un attimo di distrazione, l'anziana si avventa a uno dei due poliziotti, squarciandogli la gola. È solo l'inizio di un incubo che vedrà il palazzo trasformato in una trappola mortale.
La reporter Angela  (Manuela Velasco) prima della mattanza

Rec, diretto da Jaume Balaguerò e Paco Plaza, è il film che ha ridato vita al fenomeno del Found Footage, film realizzati con la premessa di mostrare avvenimenti "reali" ripresi da telecamere imbracciate da personaggi nell'ambito della realtà filmica mostrata.
Questa tecnica, se realizzata con cognizione di causa, riesce a creare una sensazione d'immersione e d'immedesimazione nello spettatore che esalta il terrore provato dallo spettatore.
Blalaguerò e Plaza utilizzano questo metodo alla perfezione incorporando lo spettatore nella figura del cameraman, nel cui sguardo s'identifica quello del pubblico.
Una delle caratteristiche principali per far funzionare un horror è il mettere in dubbio o sovvertire le certezze dello spettatore e Rec in questo fa un ottimo lavoro.
Le forze dell'ordine, di solito viste come protezione e sicurezza, perdono ogni autorevolezza: i poliziotti e i pompieri non sanno cosa fare e si mostrano ben più deboli di quanto il loro ruolo richiederebbe. L'Autorità che si presume debba tenere al sicuro i cittadini, qui non fa altro che isolare il palazzo e aspettare che l'emergenza finisca. La Famiglia vista come ultimo nucleo di resistenza in una società marcia si rivela essere il luogo da cui si sviluppa l'infezione.Un ulteriore punto fermo che viene messo in discussione è la Chiesa come fonte di salvezza, qui vista come origine di tutto il male.
Tutti questi fattori fanno di Rec un film all'apparenza molto semplice ma i cui effetti nello spettatore non si esauriscono subito dopo la visione.
Il film ha goduto di due seguiti: Rec 2 e Rec 3, Genesis. Rec 2, realizzato con la medesima tecnica e ambientato nella medesima palazzina poco dopo la fine del predecessore, frammenta il punto di vista con l'introduzione di numerosi punti di vista frastornando ancor di più lo spettatore sostituendo al terrore e all'ansia che erano le sensazioni predominanti del predecessore, uno stato di confusione dato dalla perdita di una precisa collocazione spaziale. Sicuramente questo seguito gioca la carta del soprannaturale che però viene tenuta comunque imbrigliata entro certe regole stabilite.
La sfortunata sposina protagonista di Rec 3(Leticia Dolera)
In Rec 3 troviamo alla regia il solo Paco Plaza e il risultato è un film molto diverso rispetto ai suoi predecessori. Il film è parzialmente ascrivibile al sottogenere del Found Footage in quanto le riprese che mimano il punto di vista di uno dei personaggi lasciano, dopo la prima mezzora. il posto a una narrazione più tradizionale, con lo spettatore esterno al racconto. Il film è un ibrido non solo per quanto riguarda la tecnica utilizzata ma anche per via del tono costantemente in bilico tra comico e serioso. Un film che vorrebbe essere grottesco, a la Alex de La Iglesia ma senza avere lo stile, ne i tempi del regista di Balada Triste de Trompeta. Rec 3 non riesce ne a spaventare lo spettatore, ne a renderlo partecipe del racconto. L'unico plauso che si possa fare a questo film, oltre all'avere qualche attore pregevole, è che si è cercato di distanziarsi da una formula collaudata ma che ormai è oggetto di uno sfruttamento massiccio e mostra la corda. Purtroppo questo tentativo non è andato a buon fine. Ora non resta che aspettare il quarto capitolo della saga, Rec 4 Apocalipsis, che segna il ritorno di Balaguerò.  

Curiosità: il film è stato oggetto di un remake americano, Quarantena. Statene alla larga.