Tag Archives: based on a play

Até que a Sbórnia nos Separe


Directors: Otto Guerra, Ennio Torresan; Main Cast: Hique GomezNico NicolaiewskyOtto Guerra;

An old man (Guerra) tells the story of his childhood in idyllic Sbornia, small peninsula separated from the rest of the world by a huge wall. He reminisces about the simple way of life with its quirks and peculiarities of his birthplace, about his father Kraunos (Gomez) and his good friend Pletskaya (Nicolaiewsky), both appreciated musicians that enlivened the evenings of the town. Besides the love for music and merriment, Sbornians have a penchant for drinking bizuwin, a beverage made with a local, slightly psychotropic plant, and axe ball, a rather unusual sport halfway between rugby and hand-pelota. The bucolic life of Sbornia is disrupted on a fateful day when the wall collapses due to an accident and the modern customs and different social mores of the outside world are brought to Sbornia. Pletskaya and Kraunos observe the reactions of their countrymen and showcase the different attitudes: while some quickly adopt foreign culture as Pletskaya, others prefer to reaffirm the Sbornian traditions and resist imperialism much like Kraunos. The latter witnesses, with increasing dismay, the dramatic changes without being able to prevent the inevitable doom. To complicate matters, Pletskaya falls in love with Coqueliquot, daughter of the magnate that is industrialising  Sbornia to produce a soda flavoured with bizuwin. The film is based on the play “Tangos & Tragédias” and it is an insightful picture of social and economical changes in a small community with plenty of humour and amazing music. The authors of the play, Nico Nicolaiewsky and Hique Gomez, have also wrote and composed most of this movie’s great songs and happens to be the voices of the main characters. The animation and the drawing style are distinctive and appealing, the story has a good pace and it’s very entertaining. Lively —8/10


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Director: Volker Schlöndorff; Main Cast: André Dussollier, Niels ArestrupBurghart KlaußnerRobert Stadlober;

Cyril Gely adapted for the screen his play by the same title about a battle of wills between Dietrich von Choltitz (Arestrup), the German military governor of occupied Paris, and Swedish consul-general Raoul Nordling (Dussollier). The film takes place during the fateful night of the 24th of August 1944, after von Choltitz has received the order to reduce Paris to a pile of rubbles since the Allies are about to liberate it. Nordling shows up, rather unexpectedly, to the governor’s office and try to convince von Choltitz to disobey his orders. The two men know each other quite well and try to use it as an advantage in this bloodless confrontation. Of course we all know that Paris was never destroyed but it is still interesting to see Nordling pleading with von Choltitz, tellling him he will go down in history as the man who laid waste to a beautiful and emblematic city. On the other hand, the governor thinks he has no other choice, since Hitler has threatened the well-being of his family. It seems to me that diplomacy looks a lot like poker: you don’t play the cards you play the man. Although very static, it is still an engaging film, thanks to the brilliant performance of the two leads. I also like the use of original footage of the Allies entering Paris, not new but effective (and it probably saved some money on production!). It’s still an entertaining story even if it is not completely accurate from a historical point of view. Diverting —7/10

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August: Osage County

Director:  John Wells, Main Cast: Meryl StreepJulia RobertsChris CooperMargo MartindaleEwan McGregorSam ShepardJulianne NicholsonJuliette LewisBenedict Cumberbatch;


Tracy Letts adapted his Pulitzer winning play for the screen and it is a very interesting study of characters and family dynamics. With John Wells at the helm, an old and honest hand at the craft, we get, alternatively, dark, stuffy interiors and burning summer light on the plains of Oklahoma, nice juxtaposition that underlines the inner turmoils and difficult relationships of the Weston family. The family members reunites under rather gloomy circumstances: the disappearance and then death of the patriarch, Beverly (Shepard). It appears clear to his eldest daughter Barbara (Roberts) that he committed suicide, having made arrangements such as hiring a help for his cancer-suffering, pill-popping wife, Violet (Streep), two days before vanishing. The audience slowly learns about the past of each character and how they became what they are, in particular we get an deep insight into Violet: the harsh childhood and difficulties of her early life, and her sister Mattie (Martindale), turned them both into strong-willed, unforgiving women and relentless mothers and wives. It is a rather dismal portrait of what people can do to the psychological health of their children. Barbara is the eldest and clearly the favorite but, being an opinionated, strong woman herself, keeps locking horns with her mother, unfortunately, in turns, she is alienating her soon-to-be ex-husband Bill (McGregor) and teenager daughter (Abigail Breslin). Ivy (Nicholson) is the mild-mannered, submissive daughter, who does everything to help her mother (she is the only one who lives nearby) and avoid confrontations (which seems a self-defense technique). Karen (Lewis) is the free-spirit but insecure one, always undervalued and dismissed by Violet, who either runs away from her problems or desperately tries to fix them finding the “right” man. Among this gallery of “terrible” women the men seems both helpless (and hapless) and the only ones who can achieve some redeeming qualities. While longtime alcoholic and poet Beverly finds that the only way through is to walk out of this raw deal, his brother-in-law Charlie (Cooper) attempts to be level-headed, patient and kind, proving to be the most balanced person of the whole family. Little Charlie (Cumberbatch) is the most pitiful of the lot: disliked and verbally abused by his mother Mattie, with zero self-worth and self-esteem, still shows a gentle nature and a kind soul. As always, family reunion will bring up old stories and things that rub the wrong way, including long-kept secrets. It is very far from the Brady bunch and not a edifying picture of familiar relations but, nonetheless, an amazing study of human nature with all its ordinary flaws. The cast as an ensemble is spectacular and makes the film, the lion share is, of course, taken in equal parts by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both stretching their acting chops very effectively. Special kudos to Cooper and Cumberbatch for their portrayal of decent men. Intriguing —7.5/10

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