Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘Everything is Illuminated

No more porn for me…

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That’s right. No sooner did I declare my perturbed state regarding pornography seekers looking for porn on my site – than they have cleaned up their act! Crikey! And I mean crikey! A random sampling of the last few days search engine requests:

  • staten island fotos
  • everything is illuminated
  • staten island
  • the commitments irish soul
  • hotel lobby
  • officious seeing eye bitch
  • monster sex sins
  • thelma and louise brad pitt

brad_pitt_10Brad Pitt is still #1, which means I really ought to write an authoritative piece on him. A girl could be tasked with much worse. The angle – brilliant artist and devoted father. Will have to leave out the whole Jennifer/Angelina thing – ick.

Staten Island is incredibly popular. Who could have known. I’m still planning my piece (translation: haven’t gotten around to it yet) on my trip to New York. The day on Staten Island was one of the very best! I could do a whole piece on that!

Hotel lobbies are a recurring search theme. They are one of those invisible subjects that really are fascinating – but you’re always busy checking in or out and rarely have the time to truly explore the amenities of a quality hotel lobby. Note to self – on next set of travels – photograph the hotel lobbies.

Officious eeing-eye bitch

Officious seeing-eye bitch

I am endlessly encouraged by the number of film lovers who are still reading about Everything is Illuminated.  One of my Top Five Films for life. For the curious, they are as follows:

  1. Touch of Evil
  2. Casablanca
  3. A Fish Called Wanda
  4. Everything is Illuminated
  5. I Served the King of England

#5 changes from time to time. I think it may be time to seriously reconsider #2 and #3, they’re still great, but it just might be time to have a rethink.

monster-sex-sinsNow I do see that Monster Sex Sins has stayed up there – but I’ve got to say, I’ve grown rather fond of the monster.  You could say he’s grown on me… And let’s face it – if his personal life is a bit quirky, that’s really none of my business. It’s occurred me that even the most sexually active people and monsters only spend a few hours a days actually engaging in sexual activity (unless of course they are in their late teens to early twenties, when more is at least possible). The rest of the time they’re just ‘us.’

Oh no… I’ve got to go back and rethink this. I’m pretty sure I’m not a 3D animated porn monster. But are YOU?

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

10/04/2009 at 12:58 pm

Everything is Illuminated

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This flick came out in 2005. But great movies, like great books, great songs  – any great work of art, deserve to be revisited every so often. I see probably 300 movies a year and four years on, this one still plays in my mind as vividly as the first time I saw it. I went to watch the DVD last weekend and much to my horror, found it was not there! I wonder who has it? And will I ever get it back?

eii-bandThe real star of this stellar indie from actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber is Ukrainian Eugene Hutz’s narration. Previously best-known as the frontman for the Gogol Bordello Ukrainian Punk Gypsy Band, he  plays Alex, a third generation tourist guide specialising in rich American Jews searching for their history. His long-suffering father has organised an excursion for a young American collector, Jonathan Safran Foer, to find a village razed by the Nazis in 1940, where he hopes to meet Augustine, a woman he believes saved his grandfather’s life.

Bespectacled Jonathan (Elijah Wood) is possibly the most uptight person on the planet. He is speechless on his arrival at the Kiev train station, where Alex has mustered a brass band to play the American national anthem; horrified when he spies the Soviet-era car he is to travel in with an apparently blind

Officious eeing-eye bitch

Officious Seeing-eye bitch

driver, Alex’s grandfather, also named Alex (Boris Leskin); and apoplectic when told he is to ride in the back with the elder Alex’s vicious ‘officious seeing eye bitch,’ Sammy Davis junior junior. Yet, he is powerless against Alex the younger, and complies, curling into the furthest reaches of the back seat while Sammy Davis junior junior growls.

The first half plays as the road trip from hell – at least for Jonathan, Wood playing the hapless straight man to Hutz’s obsession with Michael Jackson and American culture channelled through his own brand of self-taught English. He is a strict vegetarian – a phenomenon completely alien to the proprietors of the inn where they stay. Perhaps a sausage? Perhaps not. The only comfort zone in Jonathan’s life is his bedroom wall, where he has posted relics of his family history. Drawing closer to the reality of the past, he is removed from everything he has ever known.

Jonathan and Alex

Jonathan and Alex

As we approach the lost village of Trochenbrod, the tone of the film darkens. Alex the elder also has secrets that vent themselves in mindless rage against his grandson. But just as the weight of the past becomes oppressive, and the film turns bleak, everything is illuminated in a series of stunning emotional scenes.

Some critics panned this film on its release, claiming it failed to live up to Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel. While it is true there are some narrative and factual diversions, first-time director Liev Schreiber, who wrote the screenplay, was also pursuing his own lost family history in the making of this film and the screenplay received the novelist’s blessing before going into production.



Paul Cantelon’s dazzling soundtrack, which ties traditional Ukrainian folk tunes, cuts from Hutz’s band, Gogol Bordello Ukranian Punk Gypsy Band and some spare jazz-fusion complements the mood, without dictating how the viewer should feel. But Matthew Libatique’s cinematography will leave you breathless. His previous work includes Requiem for a Dream and Gothika. He is a master of the subtleties inhabiting the darkness – and here brings us into the light. If you haven’t seen this gem, rent it now. And if you have fairly recently – is that MY copy you’ve got there?

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

03/02/2009 at 11:41 pm

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