FILM: “Before Midnight” Vienna, Paris….Greece…………..

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“Before Midnight”, the long awaited final piece to the engaging and captivating trilogy directed by Richard Linklater, is set to be released on May 24th. The film is set in yet another far flung and exotic location, namely Greece. The storyline picks up nine years later (After “Before Sunset”) in Greece with Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) who now have twin children. Over time, audiences have seen the evolution of their relationship over two decades, from the time they met in Vienna, to their second meeting in Paris. Each encounter saw the characters mature as they both encountered and endured their own life issues; the films are so popular due to the sense of empathy and understanding that audiences have with both Jesse and Celine; they are just normal human beings, who are for each other, dealing with whatever life throws at them

Like the previous two films, expect the plot to be trumped by an ingenious script which affably and tactfully charts another chapter of these two characters lives. Global audiences have grown to admire and love both for their frank, genuine and sincere exchanges on everyday life and modern relationships. Now as parents, the two have to address another stage of their life, examine where they stand and seek happiness, peace and contentment in their own little ways.

From the trailer, the locations and scenes look alluring and charming. Early reviews suggest that the third film could reverse normal notions of “old is better’ by being the best scripted and paced film. Regardless, lets hope this is not a case of a film too far and that the magic of “Before Sunset” and “Before Sunrise” is not lost. Looking forward to this one as I am a big fan of the first two films.

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FILM: Hope in the face of Chaos….

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FILM “CIRCLES” (Krugovi) – The Srđan Aleksić Story

Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Leon Lucev, Nebojsa Glogovac, Hristina Popovic, Nikola Rakocevic, Vuk Kostic

Director: Srdan Golubovic

“Circles” (Krugovi) delves deep to investigate the ripple effects of a single incident and the repercussions that a single moment can have much further down the years and how it can affect the lives of those involved as they seek to move on.

Serbian director, Srdan Golubovic, chose to tell a true story of hope in the midst of tragedy; Srdan Aleksic, a Serbian soldier (played by Vuk Kostic who plays “Marko”) paid the ultimate sacrifice for trying to save his Muslim friend at the height of the conflict (1992-5) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The incident takes place in Trebinje (1993) and lays the basic foundations for the rest of the piece but not all is immediately revealed; a sense of mystery lingers as three separate yet intertwined stories continue throughout the film until the conclusion when they all come together.

The three interweaving stories, set 12 years after 1993, stretch from Trebinje, Bosnia, to modern-day Germany. The first follows Haris (Leon Lucev), the Muslim shop keeper who was attacked, who has since rebuilt his life in Germany and is known to help his fellow refugees given his own traumatic experiences. Haris is contacted by Marko’s ex fiance (Hristina Popovic) who is on the run from her now husband.  The second story follows Marko’s good friend (and doctor) who witnessed the incident yet was powerless to do anything; now years later, as a top surgeon, he comes face to face with one of the aggressors on the day, who lays dying on his surgery table. The final chapter comes in the form of Marko’s father (Aleksander Bercek) who channels his grief into building a new church. He is one day approached by a young teenager (Nikola Rakocevic) in need of work; upon hearing the surname of the young teen, the father erupts in fury. All three stories are connected by that one fateful event and are drawn together in conclusion towards the end of the film.

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The full extent of the incident is revealed towards the end of the film. From this, the audience is allowed to gauge if each of the character’s actions and reactions from the onset of the film is justifiable and fair.  All involved have formidable emotional voids and scars to deal with; the film ultimately is a study of forgiveness, compassion and redemption and if a single act of kindness begets further acts of kindness and generosity further down the years.

The film is ultimately a tribute to the little known story of Srdan Aleksic who has since come to symbolize humanity in the midst of chaos, hatred and conflict. The friend he saved, Alen Glavovic, has indeed built a new life (with two children) away from Trebinje, yet returns to his previous home each summer to visit Aleksic’s father and Srdan’s grave as a tribute to the man who laid his life down so that another could live. Such is Srdan’s legacy that his story is growing and he has achieved many posthumous awards such as Bosnia’s Helsinki Committee for Human Rights award and there are several buildings and streets named after him in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.

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A greater tribute to Srdan Aleksic would be for this well paced and wonderfully acted film to receive greater recognition so that his inspiring story can gain greater attention. The slow pace of the film is deliberate as we are allowed glimpses into each main characters secret pains and sufferings; the simple yet stunning landscapes and cinematography adds the perfect canvas for the story to unfold.

I caught “Circles” at the HKIFF on a whim from reading the basic synopsis. This was a profoundly moving film and one which I highly recommend.

FILM: “The American Dream Gone Bad” – The New Documentary

“The Queen of Versailles” directed by Lauren Greenfield, is the new acclaimed documentary about the harsh new economic times that are engulfing the world. It follows the lives of the billionaire businessman, David A Siegel (Owner of Westgate Resorts) and his wife, Jackie and their family as they ambitiously attempt to build one of the largest homes in the United States at a cost that would make the second most expensive in the United States ever. This would all be fine except for the economic downturn which throws the proverbial spanner into the works. Their property empire falters and thus, so does their dream home. The film then shows the dramas and crises which the family encounters as they attempt to complete their once not so complicated plan.

With economic and social inequality at an all time high, this documentary will provide a telling insight into the upper strata of US society. Looking forward to this one.