Archive for December, 2011

Movie: “Contagion” (2011)

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment


Title: Contagion

Year: 2011

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Written by: Scott Z. Burns

Music: Cliff Martinez

Starring: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow,

Lenght: 106 min

Genre: Medical disaster

Distributed: Warner Bros

Epidemic catastrophes, mortal flues and infectious slaughters caused by incurable viruses have always intrigued the film industry – the best examples are the works by Robin Cook.

Epidemic catastrophes, mortal flues and infectious slaughters caused by incurable viruses have always intrigued the film industry – the best examples are the works by Robin Cook.

The last movie of Steven Soderbergh can be added in this multitude of works.

The story is quite simple – Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), an American woman, comes back from Honk Kong, and after some days she and his son die because of a new and extremely mortal flu.

This is the beginning of a terrible epidemic, and facing political plot, difficulties and the investigation of a blogger journalist (Jude Law), the scientists will discover the vaccine to stop the disease.

Even if the story looks interesting, unfortunately the result is quite unsatisfactory.

The movie development is slow and boring, and because of this slowness it does not transmit the necessary tension and anxiousness of this situation.

The acting is disappointing as well, Gwyneth Paltrow is insignificant – her role lasts twenty minutes, and it is nothing special, very distant from her previous acting.

If she is insignificant, Matt Damon never get in the part – he is the husband of Beth, and obviously protects his only daughter, but he is never involved in the plot, neither he tries to understand why his wife has died, nor he carries out some action – for example contacting the medical staff or the blogger journalist – to understand the truth behind these deaths.

In my opinion, Jude Law is the only one who gets inside the role well, acting like a real investigative reporter who wants to fight the power to get the truth.

Another disappointment is the connection among the characters, which is almost non-existent.

The scientists’ team does not contact the husband of Beth to get information or examine him – the only precaution is 40 days under observation and a little interview.

But there is no contact between him and the journalist, and they look living separate story.

Every character looks following his way of facing this trouble without being related one another.

In this boring movie development the final turns out to be a well done ‘coup of the theatre’, giving to the viewer an unexpected answer to the epidemic.

This idea could be arranged and developed better considering the important and pompous cast used to create it.

Travel: Rome history of art and power

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Lupa Capitolina Source:

Its name was respected and terrifying, and its power dominated the entire Europe for centuries.

Rome has an ancient history, an important reputation, and a respectable heritage.

The legend of its birth is singular, because the founders were two twin brothers, Romolo and Remo, who a she-wolf saved miraculously and grew up as its puppies.

They were descendants of a noble family of Troy, coming directly from Aeneas, and Romolo was the first king of the city.

From small country village Rome became the most important cultural and political centre of Mediterranean, and the Latins called it ‘Roma caput Mundi’ –Rome head of the World.

Among its thinker we can list Catullus, Seneca, and Cato the Elder, and the most famous sovereign was Julius Caesar, who transformed Rome from Republic to Empire.

The dissolution of Roman Empire happened with the barbarian invasions and the sack of Rome in 476 AC.

The old power of the city flooded every street, and the biggest example is the Colosseum.

The Colosseum Source:

This amphitheatre is located in the centre of the town – the construction began in 72 AD, under the Emperor Vespasian, and it finished in 80 AD under Titus.

The impact seeing this building is incredible – a huge massive construction who erects in the middle of a square with impressive marble arches to surrender it.

The Roman powerful families or the Emperors used this arena to organize gladiators’ games or fights between fighters and wild animals coming fromAfrica.

Inside the atmosphere is an involving scene, and closing our eyes it is possible to hear the clattering of swords and roars of lions.

The Roman Forum is situated near Colosseum, and it was the ancient market of the city.

The Roman Forum Source:

This plaza has a rectangular shape, and it contains the ruins of important buildings, such as the Temple of Vestaor the Regia, the original residence of the Roman kings.

The space is dusty and earthly, as the ages when tired merchants came here from far away lands to sell their foods, spices and fine cloths, supplying the Emperor warehouses.

After the fall of the Romans, Rome became the capital of a ‘spiritual’ Empire: the centre of Christian religion.

Vatican City is situated in the Eastern zone of Rome, and it has an area of 44 hectares (110 acres).


The Vatican City Source:

Despite Rome was the centre of Christianity since the last yeas of Romans, the Holy See was established in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty.

Saint Peter Square is a huge plaza surrounded by arcades composed from two rows of columns, while the famous Basilica of Saint Peter dominates the entire space.

Inside the cathedral it is possible to observe the most important and beautiful art works in all over world, and it is worth to mention the Sistine Chapel, which contains the frescoes by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio and others.


The Sistine Chapel ceiling Source:

The ceiling of the chapel is impressive – Pope Julius II commissioned the work to Michelangelo who painted it between 1508 and 1512.

Important scenes coming from the Bible can be observed in this masterpiece, such as the Creation of Adamo, the Last Judgement, the Creation of Eve, and the Temptation and Expulsion.

The Creation of Adam

The beauty of the ceiling sticks the look of the visitors for hours.

But it is worth to talk about a particular fountain, which increased its fame with ‘La Dolce Vita’, notorious movie directed by Federico Fellini.

The Trevi Fountain is the largest baroque works in the city, and in Roman age it was junction of a city aqueduct.

In the 1629 Pope Urban VIII asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini, famous baroque architect, to renovate the fountain, which was finished in 1762 by Giuseppe Panini.

A legend holds that they who throw coin in the fountain ensured that they come back Rome again, and it is estimated that every year are thrown €3,000 by the tourists.

The city does not contain only artistic beauties, but the effervescence of the citizens involves the most serious and austere tourist.

Rome is a time travel from the ruins of an ancient glory to the splendours of baroque époque, which enriches the visitors culturally and pleasantly.


Travel: Saint Petersburg – Imperial beauty and revolutionary atmosphere

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment


If Moscow is the city of contradictions, Saint Petersburg is the city of the conflicts.

The city is the symbol of Russian nobility and aristocratic powers – in 1732 it became Imperial capital under Empress Anna – but it is also symbol of revolution, the Decembrist Revolution in 1825, the Revolution of 1905 and the October Revolution in 1917.

Its architecture is a massive representation of neoclassical design, and in the Nineteenth century the prominent architects, coming from all over Europe, contributed to this development – among the artist can be listed Antonio Rinaldi e Carlo Rossi from Italy, Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe and Jean-François Thomas de Thomon from France, and the Russian Andreyan Zakharov and Andrei Voronikhin.

Nevsky Prospect (Nevsky Avenue) is the main street, crossing the city from West to East – it was built under Peter the Great, it contains the most fashion shops and restaurants, alternated with church, square and monuments.

Saint Petersburg is site of one of the most famous and old museums in the world: the Hermitage.

Founded in 1764, it holds a huge exhibition of cultural and artistic art works from prehistoric to modern age – among the main artists can be listed Giorgione, Titian and Veronese from Italy, Velàzquez and Murillo from Spain, and Rembrandt from Netherlands.

Its imposing structure looks onto Neva, the main river of the city.

This gorgeous exhibition of richness and aristocracy collides with the history, and Saint Petersburgwas the set of the most important revolutionary event of the Twentieth century, the Bolshevik Revolution – which will start the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

This artistic-historic contrast fills the entire atmosphere of Saint Petersburgthat is not possible to feel this fizzy ambient walking through its streets.

The Hermitage Museum Source:

Charles Dickens (1812-70): A Bicentenary Display

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

A plunge in David Copperfield world

Charles Dickens (1812-70) Source:

Victoria and Albert Museum celebrates the bicentenary of the Charles Dickens birth exhibiting the original manuscript of his autobiographic masterpiece “David Copperfield” at the National Art Library, situated at the third floor of the building, from 15th November to 1st April.

The exhibition shows the first original printed copy dated 1859, and the previous drafting of the book with corrections and annotations of the author.

Before being bound in unique book, “David Copperfield” was published in 20 installments from May 1849 to November 1850, and Hablot Knight Browne created the illustrations.

He became the official Dickens illustrator, and between the two men there will create a strong work relationship – the writer examined and judged every drawing before they were printed.

Often H.K. Browne created his drawings while Dickens was writing his novels, so this close connection allowed them to establish a steady and honest collaboration.

Dickens had a meticulous management of his affairs, and the visitors can look at the personal register where the author noted the sales of his writings and the remunerations.

The influence of Dickens in the literary world was very deep, especially in the theatre.

Andrew Halliday was the author of the first theatrical adaptation – the play “Little Em’ly” – which approved from Dickens, it opened the Olympic Theatre season in 1869.

It is  also exposed a singular copy of the novel; in 1914 before the beginning of the show, the audience of the His Majesty Theatre in London received a copy of the book in homage, given by the manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and illustrated by Frank Reynolds.

But one of the most important pieces is the edition published in 1872, the first after the writer death, in which 9 volumes out of 20 were illustrated by Frederick Banrnard, who became the new best illustrator of the Dickens novels.

In 1983 Charles Keeping published a comics version of David Copperfield, which was the first edition illustrated by only one cartoonist.

The exhibition ends with a recent comics edition published in 2007 by Marias Williams.

This small exhibition represents “David Copperfield” impact on different artistic sectors.

The visitors carry out a plunge in Nineteenth century – when London started industrializing, facing its new problems (drunkenness of exploited workers, slums, immigration, poverty and dirtiness), and the splendour of Victorian Age dominated every cultural field.

Travel: Moscow in my heart

December 16, 2011 3 comments


Moscow is the city of contradictions – old and new are constantly intermingled.

Wandering through the streets, it is possible to discover small ancient colourful churches among modern grey huge buildings.

The Red Square, the most important plaza in Moscow, takes visitors breath away – its vastness injects a feeling of powerlessness and amazement, difficultly noticeable in other architectural works.

The historical meaning – here the Russian citizens gathered, starting the Revolution which deposed the Tsar- is connected with these emotions.

But this place embodies itself strong contradictions –  the Kremlin, previous headquarters of the ruling Communist Party, dominates the Southern and Western side, and it is symbol of power and political treachery, while Saint Basil’s cathedral, the most important building for Russian Orthodox Church, dominates the Eastern side, countering the material weaknesses with feelings of peace, religious faith and global love.


The metropolis mingles its two faces – the luxurious shop scattered in the elegant areas with poor outlying zones – creating an unusual melting pot for a western tourist.

The words cannot describe the beauty of Moscow completely, and visiting it is the best way to taste this mixture of aged Eastern traditions and modern Western values.

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Movie: “The Nutcracker in 3D” (2011)

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment


Title: The Nutcracker in 3D

Year: 2011

Director: Andrej Konchalovskij

Written by: Chris Solimine, Andreij Konchalovskij

Music: Eduard Artemiev

Lyrics: Tim Rice

Starring: Elle Fanning, Charlie Rowe, Aaron Michael Drozin,Nathan Lane, John Turturro.

Lenght: 110 min

Genre: Fantasy

Literature, theatre and film industry are closely interconnected, and a huge number of masterpieces test or have tested the ability of directors.

It is enough to think about the influence of Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie with Hercules Poirot or Shakespeare with Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

“The Nutcracker in 3D” is the last movie by the Russian director Andrej Konchalovskij, clearly inspired by the famous ballet which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky set to music.

The theatrical work was adapted from the story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” written by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Set in Vienna, the movie tells the story of two children, Mary (Elle Fanning) and her brother Max (Aaron Michael Drozin), during the Christmas period.

One evening their parents leave home to attend a worldly event, and Uncle Albert (Natham Lane) has the duty to look after the children.

Albert is an eccentric man, clever, beloved by his niece and nephew, and a toy-lover.

He gives them a house-doll with inside three singular puppets: a cycling-monkey, a sleeping clown and a coloured drummer boy, but the best surprise is a wooden nutcracker toy soldier that is shaped (Charlie Rowe).

He called him NC and where it comes from is a mystery, “I would tell you, but if I do it, I have to kill you”, the uncle answers playfully.

After dinner the children go to sleep, and during the night the nutcracker comes to life, waking Mary for asking help, because he is a prince whom a spell transformed in nutcracker.

The cruel Mouse King (John Turturro) invaded his country to destroy every toy and starting a process of ‘ratization’ of the citizens.

The little puppet and his house-doll friends will lead Mary and her brother Max in an incredible fight to save the realm with no holds barred, which will finish with their victory.

This fairy tale is not for children. Konchalovskij included a huge number of cultural references that are not simply understandable.

Uncle Albert is a clear homage to Albert Einstein – he is a supporter of relativity, so nothing is pre-determined, and he explains this theory to Mary and Max writing the famous formula E= mc2 on a small blackboard.

The mum of the children is a upholder of the psychoanalysis. “Joseph listen, do you remember what doctor Freud told us about child psychology and dreams?” she will remind her husband after Mary tells them of the encounter with the alive nutcracker.

Citing Shakespeare, before choosing to escape, the Mouse King will cry out, “To be or not to be that is the question”.

Despite the cultural efforts and the important work at which the movie is inspired, the result disappoints the viewer.

The dark and gloomy atmosphere turns out to be ponderous and excessive, and even if the sequence of the first half is fluent and quite pleasant, the second half lost strength and speed, making dull on the chase and conflict between the prince and the Mouse King.

A good TV movie for passing a cold and snowy evening at home, but for which is not worth to spend the cost of cinema ticket.