joi, 31 iulie 2008

Le salaire de la peur

Now this is a movie! Movies, like coffee, are supposed to be black... well, black and white to be exact :) Despite being an antique almost (released in 1952) this movie has it all: well defined characters, a story, great acting, beautiful shots and superb directing!
Henri-Georges Clouzot creates a masterpiece with the help of a few great actors. A cast led by Yves Montand (Mario) but with equally beautiful play from Charles Vanel (M. Jo), Peter van Eyck (Bimba) and especially Folco Lulli (Luigi).

The image of the little south-american boy playing in the dirt, in the opening sequences of the movie, must be one of the best in film history. Equally great are the sequences with Bimba pouring the nitroglycerin to blow up the rock blocking the road or the slow drowning of M. Jo in oil, while Mario was driving his truck over his leg.

Maybe more beautiful and sensible than the actual nitroglycerin journey itself is the introduction into the movie. The characters are explained nicely, their strengths and weaknesses exposed, the situation in which they are is made clear. The only surprise is the ambivalence of M. Jo and the courage of Luigi, gloriously left for latter by Clouzot.
Overall Clouzot does a great job, the close-ups on the eyes of the drivers are a graphic delight, emphasizing the sensation of fear and anticipation. The eminence of disaster is felt close by, without any special effects, without colossal explosions, without hundreds of liters of fake blood and millions of bullets.

Yves Montand character is great: a child macho that is tough with women yet carries around, like his most important valuable, a ticket from the Paris metro.
Charles Vanel plays M. Jo, a recycled gangster from the Paris ill famed neighborhoods, quite tough on the outside, yet easy to crack when faced with the real danger of getting blown into little pieces.
Then there is Luigi, the cliche Italian construction worker of which France of full before the war, the only one in the whole gang that has a stable job. He clubs around Mario, enjoying his easy going attitude, but never so much as to repeat it himself. He handles the crazy drive of the nitroglycerin truck with the same attitude displayed in his daily routine. He is a hero by accident without even knowing so. And he dies together with Bimba, they disappear from the film like they never were, two more victims on the road to hell.

The end of the movie is sad, short and previsible. But so it is real life. The happy ending of Mario getting back to Linda and living happily ever after is a lot more adequate to Hollywood type of movies. Exactly the type that Clouzot refused his whole life to make.

P.S.: William Friedkin made a remake of the movie in 1977, Sorcerer. Well, don't! I mean don't waste your time and precious internet bandwidth to download and watch this movie. Or if it is mandatory that you do, at least please see it before the original. Otherwise you'll never get to finish watching it! BTW, the Sorcerer is great by itself: casts Roy Scheider and got a Oscar nomination, but it just cannot stay next to Le salaire de la peur.
P.P.S.: do you know a lot of movies with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes?! Well, here is one!

marți, 29 iulie 2008

On the road again...

Se facea ca am dus masina la service pt ceva scirtziieli... Cam de rau augur la o masina noutza, da' asta se pare ca e mult laudata calitate Volkswagen :D

Anyways, imi zice individul de acolo ca e de investigat serios la tu-tu sa vada de ce se scirtziie, ca vezi Doamne VW-urile nu face ele zgomote asa aiurea de capu lor. M-am uitat putin interzis la amic, el s-a mai calmat si porumbelu care i-a iesit din gura in momentul urmator a fost ca o sa imi dea o masina de inchiriat care e acoperita oricum de garantzia VW-ului. M-am mai imbunat si io... de unde inainte ma pregateam sa-l iau de git crezind ca o sa spuna ca scirtziiala nu-i acoperita de garantzie, acuma ma pregateam sa-l imbratzishez, surprins de ce garantzie faina am eu si ce baiat bun e el.

Cum insa nu imi plac barbatzii asa de tare m-am abtzinut de la imbratzishare si m-am multumit sa-i zic sa-l cheme pe ala cu masinile de inchiriat... Care a aparut mintenash si imi zice cu o figura spasita ca trebuie sa ii scuz dar nu au nici o masina available. Pai si atunci de ce mai venisi moncher?! Ca asta puteai sa-mi zici si la telefon! Pai sa vezi, nu avem nici o masina, da' avem citeva truck-uri! Ai mai condus vreodata un truck?
Pe loc intrigat de experienta si sedus de marime (yap, size does matter! si nu numai pt femei), ii raspund vesel ca nu, da' mi-ar place sa ma dau cu camionu. Vesel a devenit si el si a inceput imediat sa-mi multumeasca ca am fost de acord sa "work with us". Intr-un tirziu a lasat multzamirile si a scos camionu... Iacata-l mai jos in toata splendoarea :)

Yap! That's a Dodge Ram 1500 alright!

Si e mare nu gluma... Cind m-am urcat in el am zis ca m-am convertit la tractoristi, ca m-as cam asorta oricum dupa bronzul de exceptie pe care-l etalez pe fata si pe antebrate. Plaja ioc da' soare din belshug :)

Agregatu cu pricina e bestial! Recomand cu mare caldura o tura cu asemenea gigant! Pozitia la volan e fantastica, you realy are the fucking king of the road! Cabina e destul de estetica pt ceva atit de mare si fara pretentii de lux, loc inauntru ca la nebuni... Consola centrala fata e imensa si am crezut ca contine un glove box ca orice masina normala; are si glove box, da' de fapt e un scaun rabatabil, asa ca in fata pot sta 3 indivizi. Aerul conditionat e cel mai tare pe care l-am vazut vreodata, schimbatorul de viteze (sau cum draq ii zice in cazul masinilor automate) e cel mai cretin pe care l-am vazut vreodata: e in locul comutatotului de stergatoare de la masinile normale, fix pe volan, un levier de metal mare si greu de manevrat...
Impresia covirsitoare e de Viagra pe roti: mare, puternic, artificial, pt barbatzi cu probleme serioase... Nu stiu daca problemele is la tartacutza sau in alta parte...

Toata constructia denota o lipsa totala de respect fata de practicalitate, common sense, environment si asa mai departe... E o declaratie ferma, in your face, de "mi se rupe mie de veveritzele si padurile tropicale care o sa moara din cauza fumului de la truck-ul meu"!
Si iese ceva fum... la un motor de V8 de 5.7 l si 310 cai putere... ca sa nu mai zic ce de benzina papa! 18 l/100 km la mers normal, daca mai tragi si ceva dupa tine...

Altfel, sincer, se cam trezeste macho-ul din tine cind te dai pe autostrada cu ditamai mashinutza, la 120 km/h, cu difuzoarele urlind Who'll stop the rain al lui Creedence si cu o senzatie de elefant miscindu-se gratzios printre furnicutzele din jur... Cind am mai stat la un stop si linga un Corvette a fost si mai haios. Nenea ala avea capota la nivelul scaunului meu :) Ei, si verdele a venit la stop, si Corvette-ul s-a dus... si eu am ramas sa ma joc mai departe cu jucaria mea mincatoare de gaz...
Da' si daca ma suparam si ma urcam pe Corvette, mai putea el sa fuga?!

Altfel, a fost bun Ram-ul saracu ca mi-a facut o economie de vreo 100 de para: am carat masina de spalat si uscatorul, plus vreo 4 palmieri :) Cu VW-ul nu aveam nici o sansa, asa ca shipping-ul ma scutura un pic la buzunar.
Pacat ca n-am mai gasit nika de carat ca mi-ar fi placut sa ne mai plimbam impreuna...

joi, 24 iulie 2008

Now you got all the Answers!

Just to let you know that my blog is now answerable! Yap, just double click any word in any article and a complete explanation of the term will pop-out in a box from

So, no point to post more hyperlinks from now on, just go ahead and double click any words you are interested in...

Couple of caveats: does not work for Opera or Safari less than 3 and you cannot double click an expression or phrase... Not to mention that the "answers" are, to say the least, strange at times... Not context sensitive so you can expect really screwed up explanations; still this might be fun sometimes if you stumble upon something nice... Well, nobody's perfect.

And an unexpected perk: I was annoyed that the pop-up box interferes with my mp3 widget... Well, it turns out that the pop-up can be moved in any position... a bit of Ajax in action I guess :)

The Air I Breathe

Well, I mean the movie not what it's coming through my non-stop working A/C unit... yeah, that "central" A/C so popular in the US of A and almost impossible to find in Europe. And for good reason I guess: does it make any sense not to be able to set a different temperature in each room?! Seems the Americans think it does :D

Anyways, back to the movie...

I kind of liked it... OK, it's a more or less clone of Magnolia, but it still hits the right spot for me... (If you did not see Magnolia, you're the only one to blame; do yourself a service and check it out!). More recently, Crash and Babel were in the same genre, but, again, I think there is still place under the Sun for The Air I Breathe.
OK, the characters are underdeveloped, the story has more style than substance, the coincidences - on which the film is based - are a bit too stretched out, still you get a good movie, with an almost perfect cinematography, a great cast - yeah, when Brendan Fraser leaves the mummies and Sarah Michelle Gellar does not slay any vampire, they can actually act - and a far better way than most to spend 95 minutes.

What others are saying 'bout this movie? Well, on Rotten Tomato only 14% percent of the critics liked it, the general opinion being "(the movie) takes itself way too seriously, and it doesn’t add up to much"; High-Def Digest has a particular nice phrase about it: "The latest dose of such intellectual masturbation comes in the form of ‘The Air I Breathe,’ a meandering meditation on the interconnectivity of man divided into four vignettes".

Well, I have really enjoyed the movie as being one of the best I've seen lately. Actually I didn't enjoy a movie so much since I have seen Closer a couple of years back. I guess a 7.4 rating on IMDB really does the trick for me :)

So, please do me a favor and check this movie out, at least to let me know if I've wasted 95 minutes of your life!

marți, 8 iulie 2008

Stumble Upon!

If there is still someone that doesn't know Stumble Upon is a great site! Breaking news, yeah?

Well, it is! Considering that i have just stumbled upon two of my very own old pictures, which I have even forgotten they are online. Somehow they even got Editor's Pick at Better Photo :)

Here they are if anybody is curios: Old Man and Small Ship in Paphos.

joi, 3 iulie 2008

Datini, traditzii si apucaturi fine la americanosi - Episodul 1: Benzina

Nebunia draqului pe aici ca a crescut pretul la benzina... Ce Obama, ce McKain, benzina ii buba cea mare care-l roade pe american fix in turul pantalonilor!
Pe tema asta a inceput sa se vorbeasca din ce in ce mai tare si de o eventuala interventie in Iran... singura problema e sa "descopere" vreun terorist care se piteste pe acolo, ca la faza cu "weapons of mass distruction" nu mai mushca nimeni.

In sfirsit... Deci de ce-l doare asa de tare pe "american tax payer" de scumpirea benzinei? Oficial ar fi 2 motive, ambele aberante: ca e mai scumpa decit era si ca masinoaiele americanesti consuma mai mult decit surioarele europene si japoneze.

De scumpit s-a scumpi gazul ce-i drept, acu 2 ani in San Jose era cam $2.50/gallon iar acuma, la mama ei acasa in Dallas, e mai bine de $4/gallon. Cam ce-ar insemna asta? Pai fix $1.06/litru... O fi scump? Nu prea, ca-n Romanica e aproape de $2/litru iar in restu UE e mai bine de Euro1.7/litru (asa cel putin era in Amsterdam acu o luna jumate). Si mi-e greu sa cred ca salariile americanilor is mai mici ca ale romanilor...

Consumul mare la masinile americane? Asa e nu-i vorba... Un Ford Explorer face in jur de 20 mile pe gallon, iar un Hummer H2 vreo 15. Da' daca te uiti putin in jurul tau vezi ca nu-i numa plin de Hummer si Toyota Tundra, se mai gasesc si Civic-uri si Corrola... Ca sa nu mai zic ca am ramas patrat sa vad un numar mai mare de Mini Cooper decit in Europa. Iar un Civic face cam 35 mile pe gallon. Ca sa vorbim in termeni europenesti, 35 mpg e 6.7 l/100km, ceea ce as zice ca e chiar bine pt un motor de 1.8l. La Hummer e mai nashpa, se duce pe la 15l/100km, da' ala e chiar camion, are motor de 6l, cit ar trebui sa consume?! Pai daca iei Dacia-ile de prin '80-'90 de care mai e inca plina Romania, mare minune sa consume mai putin de 10l/100km.
A si inca una: masinile americanilor (nu neaparat de productie americana) au motor mare! Serios?! Si oare de ce? Is astia mai timpiti asa sa vrea sa consume mai mult? De unde... americanul e un tip practic: uitati-va la caii putere ai motorului obisnuit in State (adica cam 2l - 2.5l) si o sa vedeti ca sint la fel ca la motorul UE de 1.6l-1.8l, ergo consuma cam la fel. De ce sint ale americanilor cu cilindree mai mare? Simplu: caii putere is la fel, dar mai important e cuplul motor! Ca sa fie si asta comparabil (sau mai mare de obicei in US), motorul trebuie sa aiba cilindree mare, pt ca masinile in US sint grele sila cuplu mic n-ar mai demara prea usor... cum le faci sa aiba cuplu mare? Doua solutii: cilindree mare si motor neturat sau cilindree mica si motor turat in draci. De asta MX-3-ul meu din CY statea constant la 4000 rpm iar VW-ul de aici (motor cu vreo 60 HP mai mare si cam 70 Nm in plus) sta la 2000! Avantaje in plus la cilindrea mare: demaraj mult mai destept si, mai ales, componente, deci implicit mentenantza, mult mai simple!
Asa ca de-aia se dovedeste inca odata ce film destept era Snatch: "Big is reliable!!!" cum zicea killer-ul ala sovietic de nu-l mai dovedea Vinnie Jones!

Si totusi de ce se pling amaritzii astia ca sa scumpit benzina?! Pen'ca le-a zis lor tatuca ca pe vremea lui era $0.31/gallon (incredibil dar adevarat, asta era pretul in plina perioada Flower Power) si mai ales pt ca fac o multime de km! Sau de mile, dar tot aia e... Pai worker-ul obisnuit conduce cam 1/2 ore pina la servici, asta inseamna vreo 20 de mile. Se mai si intoarce (daca nu lucreaza in IT ca altfel doarme acolo), duce si kinderu la scoala, eventual o ia si pe consoarta de la munca... In weekend se duce la 2-3 magazine fiecare la cel putin 5 mile de casa, daca-i barbat adevarat trage si un meci din NFL si o berica cu pretenarii la fel de inteligenti, Duminica scoate famelia la picnic si tot asa... Deci cite mile face individu pe saptamina? Aproape 400! Si binenteles un individ de asemenea anvergura nu poate conduce decit un F-150 cel putin... Asa ca reuseste sa consume 26 de galloane pe saptamina. Adica benzina il costa peste $400 pe luna sau $4800 pe an! q.e.d.

Any questions?

P.S.: milele facute asa intr-aiurea ii mai afecteaza si la alte cele: leasingul la masini se face cu 12000 mile/an... iar omuletzu din exmplu face lejer mai bine de 20000! Si sint niste penalizari pe depasiri de te sperii! Ca sa nu mai zic ce inseamna sa mentii o masina care face peste 30000 km pe an... plus cit de dramatic ii scade valoarea de revinzare!