A hit from Italy!

Extremely happy that Belgium won the bronze in the FIFA World Cup 2018!! Magnificent team and effort! #Belgium #Redtogether

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Great stripped down version.

Following their annual tradition, a group of friends meet at a banya (a traditional public bath/sauna) in Moscow to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The friends all get very drunk toasting the upcoming marriage of Zhenya Lukashin (Andrei Myagkov) to Galya (Olga Naumenko). After the bath, one of the friends, Pavlik (Aleksandr Shirvindt), has to catch a plane to Leningrad; Zhenya, on the other hand, is supposed to go home to celebrate New Year’s Eve with his fiancée. Both Zhenya and Pavlik pass out. The others cannot remember which of their unconscious friends is supposed to be catching the plane; eventually they mistakenly decide that it is Zhenya and put him on a plane instead of Pavlik. The seatmate helps Zhenya get off the plane in Leningrad. He wakes up in the Leningrad airport, believing he is still in Moscow. He stumbles into a taxi and, still quite drunk, gives the driver his address. It turns out that in Leningrad there is a street with the same nam and with a building at his address which looks exactly like Zhenya’s. The key fits in the door of the apartment with the same number. Inside, even the furniture is nearly identical to that of Zhenya’s apartment. Zhenya is too drunk to notice the differences, and goes to sleep. Later, the real tenant, Nadya Shevelyova (Barbara Brylska), arrives home to find a strange man sleeping in her bed. To make matters worse, Nadya’s fiancé, Ippolit (Yuri Yakovlev), arrives before Nadya can convince Zhenya to get up and leave. Ippolit becomes furious, refuses to believe Zhenya and Nadya’s explanations, and storms out. Zhenya leaves to get back to Moscow but circumstances make him return repeatedly. Nadya wants to get rid of him as soon as possible, but there are no flights to Moscow until the next morning. Thus the two are compelled to spend New Year’s Eve together. At first they continue to treat each other with animosity, but gradually their behavior softens and the two fall in love. In the morning, they feel that everything that has happened to them was a delusion, and they make the difficult decision to part. With a heavy heart, Zhenya returns to Moscow. Meanwhile Nadya reconsiders everything and, deciding that she might have let her chance at happiness slip away, takes a plane to Moscow following Zhenya, easily finding him in Moscow, since their addresses are the same…

“The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!” (Russian: “Ironiya sudby, ili S lyogkim parom!”, literally: The Irony of Fate, or With Good Steam) is a 1976 Soviet romantic comedy television film directed by Eldar Ryazanov. The screenplay was written by Emil Braginsky and Ryazanov, loosely based on the director’s 1971 play “Once on New Year’s Eve”. The film was filmed in 1975 at the Mosfilm Studios. Simultaneously a screwball comedy and a love story tinged with sadness, it is one of the most successful Soviet television productions ever and remains highly popular in modern Russia. The key subplot to this story is the drab uniformity of Brezhnev era russian public architecture. This results in the entire planet being polluted with identical, unimaginative multistory apartment buildings of the sort that can, in fact, be found in every city, town, and suburb across the former Soviet Union. These buildings are uniform right down to the door key of each apartment. The two consecutive episodes of “The Irony of Fate” were originally broadcast by the Soviet central television channel, Programme One, on 1 January 1976, at 18:00. The film was a resounding success with audiences: author Fedor Razzakov recalled that “virtually the entire country watched the show”; the number of viewers was estimated to have been about 100 million. In response to popular demand, the feature had a first re-run on 7 February. By 1978, after several further broadcasts of the picture, the accumulated number of viewers for all of the showings including the first was estimated at some 250 million. A shortened 155 minutes version was released to cinemas on 16 August 1976; it sold some 7 million tickets. The readers of Sovetskii Ekran, the official publication of the State Committee for Cinematography, voted The Irony of Fate as the best film of 1976, and chose Andrey Myagkov as the best actor of the year. In 1977, Ryazanov, Braginsky, cinematographer Vladimir Nakhabtsev, composer Mikael Tariverdiev and actors Barbara Brylska and Myagkov were all awarded the USSR State Prize in recognition of their participation in making the film. George Faraday commented that while it was basically a happy end romantic comedy, The Irony of Fate had a “socially critical undertone”: it could be interpreted as an “explicit commentary… On the soulless uniformity of the Soviet urban landscape”. Simultaneously, however, critics accused the director of creating an escapist film which allowed the Soviet audience to turn away from the “unattractive features” of their country’s reality. Ryazanov responded that “to reassure, to encourage the viewer – it is not such a sin.” He rejected the claims his pictures were meant to please state authorities, stating their optimistic nature was “spontaneous” rather than “forced”. The film is traditionally broadcast in Russia and the former Soviet republics every New Year’s Eve, and is widely regarded as a classic piece of Russian popular culture: Andrew Horton and Michael Brashinsky likened its status to that held by Frank Capra’s 1946 “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the United States as a holiday staple. A sequel, “The Irony of Fate 2”, was released in December 2007, becoming a box office hit and grossing over $55 million to a production budget of $5 million. I was introduced to this wonderful russian film when I was living in Riga/Latvia, and at that time I had no knowledge of this film or the fact that this movie (as well in Latvia) was loved and watched by millions every New Years eve. Yes, it´s truly a classic sort of 70´s screwball comedy, but there´s so much more to it. Love, family, friendship, disappointment, sadness, deception etc and I really like that there´s also a poke at the communistic conformity, but made in a respectful way. Russia is a country that fascinates me and I have had the opportunity to study russian as well during my years in Riga, a quite beautiful language. There´s also several nice songs performed in the movie, but it has as well a great intro song and ending song. And how can you not fall in love with Nadya played by the beautiful polish actress Barbara Brylska. All in all I truly recommend you to see “Ironiya sudby, ili S lyogkim parom!”. (4 out of 5)

The Irony of Fate

In 1969 a mysterious man (Robert Redford) arrives at Wakefield State Prison in Arkansas. As an inmate, he immediately witnesses rampant abuse and corruption, including open and endemic sexual assault, torture, worm-ridden diseased food, insurance fraud and a doctor charging inmates for care. Brubaker eventually reveals himself – during a dramatic standoff involving a deranged prisoner who was being held in solitary confinement – to be the new prison warden to the amazement of both prisoners and officials alike. With ideals and vision, he attempts to reform the prison, with an eye towards prisoner rehabilitation and human rights. He recruits several long-time prisoners, including trustees Larry Lee Bullen (David Keith) and Richard “Dickie” Coombes (Yaphet Kotto), to assist him with the reform. Their combined efforts slowly improve the prison conditions, but his stance inflames several corrupt officials on the prison board who have profited from graft for decades. When Brubaker discovers multiple unmarked graves on prison property, he attempts to unravel the mystery leading to a political scandal…

“Brubaker” is based on the real-life efforts of former prison administrator Thomas O. Murton to reform Tucker and Cummins Prison Farms in Arkansas in 1967-68. Murton served as a technical advisor for the film. The warden impersonating a prisoner story element was fictionalized and was not derived from Thomas O. Murton’s experiences. It has been suggested though that this plot device was inspired by Sing Sing Prison Warden Thomas Mott Osborne who in 1913 under an assumed name had had himself committed to New York State’s Auburn State Penitentiary. This is one of two Robert Redford movies released in 1980 that were Oscar nominated. This film was an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay whilst the other movie Ordinary People (1980) received six Oscar nominations. “Brubaker” was a critical and commercial success. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said, “…The movie (refuses) to permit its characters more human dimensions. We want to know these people better, but the screenplay throws up a wall; they act according to the ideological positions assigned to them in the screenplay, and that’s that. … Half of Redford’s speeches could have come out of newspaper editorials, but we never find out much about him, What’s his background? Was he ever married? Is this his first prison job? What’s his relationship with the Jane Alexander character, who seems to have gotten him this job? (Alexander has one almost subliminal moment when she fans her neck and looks at Redford and, seems to be thinking unpolitical thoughts, but the movie hurries on.) Brubaker is a well-crafted film that does a harrowingly effective job of portraying the details of its prison, but then it populates it with positions rather than people.” I have wanted to see “Brubaker” since 1980 as a fan of Robert Redford and now I finally bought a copy. However, I think that “Brubaker” is a bit too long, a bit too slow and a bit too talky to be honest. And I think that most characters are under developed, but the acting is truly solid and engaging. Nevertheless, in 2014 this becomes a bit like just another clichéd prison movie with a Messiah like figure with his own agenda and ways of change. In 1980 this was most likely different, but it´s not more than a 3 out of 5 in my point of view on the last day of 2014. (3 out of 5)

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As a young boy, Noah witnesses his father, Lamech, killed by a young Tubal-cain. Many years later an adult Noah (Russell Crowe) is living with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and their sons Shem, Ham and Japheth. After seeing a flower grow instantly from the ground and being haunted by dreams of a great flood, Noah takes them to visit his grandfather, Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins). On they way they encounter a group of people recently killed and adopt the lone survivor, a girl named Ila (Emma Watson). Noah and his family are chased by Tubal-cain and his men but seek refuge with the fallen angels known as the “Watchers”, confined on Earth as stone golems (nephilim) for helping humans banished from the Garden of Eden. Methuselah gives Noah a seed from Eden and tells Noah that he was chosen for a reason. Returning to his tent that night, Noah plants the seed into the ground. The Watchers arrive the next morning and debate whether they should help Noah until they see water spout from the spot where Noah planted the seed. A forest grows quickly, and the Watchers state that they will help Noah do the Creator’s bidding. The trees are cut by the Watchers to build Noah’s Ark with the help of Noah and his family. After birds fly to the Ark, Tubal-cain arrives with his followers and confronts Noah about his reasons for building the Ark. Noah defies Tubal-cain and remarks that there is no escape for the line of Cain. Tubal-cain retreats and decides to build weapons to defeat the Watchers and take the Ark. As the Ark nears completion, animals of various species enter the Ark and are put to sleep with incense. With Ila having become enamored of Shem, Noah goes to a nearby settlement to find wives for Ham and Japheth, but upon witnessing humans being traded and apparently slaughtered for food, he abandons his effort and begins believing that the creator wants all of humanity dead. Back at the ark, he tells his family that he will not seek wives for his younger sons. After the Flood, they will be the last humans, and there will be no new generation of man…

Paramount Pictures were very worried about how Noah (2014) and its religious theme would be treated properly, so they screen tested three different rough cuts of the film, both without the approval and knowledge of Darren Aronofsky and all of the versions met with resounding criticism from Christian audiences. It has, since then, led to countless controversy and debacle on its correspondence to the biblical text found in the Book of Genesis. Aronofsky said that he was very unhappy with Paramount testing alternate versions of Noah that were not ‘true to his vision’: “I was upset – of course. No one has ever done that to me. I imagine if I made comedies and horror films, it would be helpful. In dramas, it’s very, very hard to do. I’ve never been open to it. I don’t believe that.” After much discussion and compromise, the studio announced on February 12 that Darren Aronofsky’s version, not any of the studio’s alternate versions, will be the final cut of Noah. “They tried what they wanted to try, and eventually they came back. My version of the film hasn’t been tested… It’s what we wrote and what was greenlighted,” Aronofsky said. It will not be test screened until post production is finished, as per Aronofsky’s wishes. Russell Crowe explained his characterization of Noah as not necessarily having to be nice: “The funny thing with people being, they consider Noah to be a benevolent figure, you know? Because he looked after the animals. Are you kidding me? This is a dude who stood by and let the entire population of the planet perish!” Darren Aronofsky had been fascinated with the character of Noah since childhood, seeing him as a “a dark, complicated character who experiences real survivor’s guilt”. As an avid fan of Aronofsky´s previous work I wanted to see his adaptation of the biblical character Noah as well. It´s a visually stunning movie and I reckon there´s all sorts of intriguing stories in the bible that can be put on the silver screen, now recently we have Ridley Scott´s “Exodus”. However, I personally think that “Noah” is a biblical slush puppie structured like some sort of religious actioneer with over the top theatrical performances from all involved and silly dialogue. It just doesn´t come together at all. Yes, this is an adaptation of the figure Noah and his tale, but I just think that Aronofsky handles it wrongly and the existential/spiritual values gets lost in this action mish mash. The story is there, no matter what you think of it from a religious point of view, but “Noah” is not what I hoped for. The Wrap called the film “Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical Waterworld”, but with that said I did like “Waterworld” and not “Noah”. (3 out of 5)

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