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«Our sun is dying, mankind faces extinction. Seven years ago the icarus project sent a mission to restart the sun, but that mission was lost, besore it reached the star. Sixteen months ago I, Robert Capa, and a crew of seven left Earth, frozen in a solen winter. Our payload, a stiller bomb, with a mass equivalent to Manhattan island. Our purpose is to create a star within a star… Eight austronauts strapped in the back of the bomb, my bobm, welcome to Icarus 2…» – says Robert Capa. That is how Sunshine starts.


From the beginning of the movie you feel something inside, something epic. Doctor Searl is sitting in an observation room, he is looking at the Sun through the special screen, which protects his eye retina from being completely burnt. It is really bright in the room, the voice says: «at this distance of 36.000.000 miles you are observing the Sun at 2% of full brightness. Can you show me 4% – asks Searl. 4% will result in irreversibly damage to your retinas – says the board computer. «Oh my God», you think, the Earth is so far from the Sun, it is so bright and burns everything on enormosly far distance. We don’t know much about the Sun, it is something sacred, a large source of light, which Light gives life and warmth to our planet. In a movie «Sunshine», directed by Danny Boyle, who is, in my opinion, one of the best directors nowadays, the director who brought «Shallow Grave»,«Trainspotting», «28 days later», «The Beach» and his recent movie «127 hours», genius who mediates on incredibly interesting phylosophical and life topics takes us on a jorney beyond imagination in a 2007 movie «SUNSHINE». Sunshine is a movie about 8 heroes austronauts who is on their mission to restart the dying Sun with the nuclear Bobm, which is equivalent to Manhattan island. 8 heroes:

–       Physicist, Robert Capa

–       Physiatrist, Searl

–       Captain, kaneda

–       Communications Officer, Harvey

–       Navigator, Trey

–       Engineer, Mace

–       Flight Officer, Cassie

–       Doctor, Corazon

8 heroes with different personalities, but united with one purpose to save the mankind from the extinction. Who are flying towards the Sun to restart it. The story of the dying Sun makes this story unique, Intriguing and enormosly interesting. «Sunshine» absorbs you entirly from the very beginning to the very end when you see the final credits. All of the 8 astronauts are having a diner, while Trey, Communications Officer tells them that soon they are Going to reach the dead zone and it is the last Opportunity to send a message home, because once they fly Over the dead zone the ship will lose communication with Earth. Robert Capa, is the first to send the message, he knows that this is the only one opportunity in two years! to send the message to his family. He stays calm and gives very important piece of information:
“Just remember, it takes 8 minutes for light to travel from Sun to Earth, which means you’ll know if we succeeded about 8 minutes after we deliver the payload, all you have to do is look out for little extra-brightness in the sky, so if you wake up in morning and it’s particularly beautiful day, you’ll know we made it, ok, I’m signing out, I’ll see you in a couple years” – he breathes heavily, as he knows that he will see his family only in 2 years and that it is a great responsibility to deliver the payload. Corazon enters the observation room where Captain Kaneda is in the observation room, he is curious about what searl told them: “darkness is an absences, it is a vacuum, but light is becomes you”. She shows him the  oxygen report, which says that they have enough oxygen to go to the Sun and a quarter way back. Captain starts thinking about Icarus I, which mysteriously disappeared 16 month ago. Corazon states that the ozygen was not the reason why Icarus I didn’t make it… It arouses the audience’s curiosity and makes it think about what could happen with Icarus I in the space on the distance of many million kilometers from the Earth and, which is more important, from their purpose The Sun. Meanwhile, Mace and Capa are fighting, because Mace thinks that Capa with his long message prevented him from sending his message to home. After a while Mace, sitting in Searl’s office says that it has been very hard to remain calm and it is really easy to lose track in 16 month being on the ship. Icarus II is getting closer to the Mercury, the whole Team is watching it rotating around the Sun, incredibly beautiful score by John Merphy helps the audience to enjoy this truly amazing view.

Harvey hears strange noises coming through the speakers from outer space, he realizes what this is, Icarus I. During the meeting Captain Kaneda asks Capa to decide if it is necessary to go to the Icarus 2, as it has the second payload, which increases their chances to restart the Sun. It is really hard for him to make the decision, as Capa is a physicist, who used to make decisions based on the concrete evidences, but the board computer cannot calculate what will happen with the payload when it reaches the Sun. Based on the logic Capa decides to go and pick up the second payload and, at the same time, check if anyone from the crew is still alive. Capa is having a dream where he, without a space suit, is in a free wall getting closer to the Sun’s surface. The spaceship alarm goes on, navigator, Trey, says that he made a mistake in calculating the course, therefore some of the protective shield-plates are damaged and if somebody doesn’t leave the ship in order to fix them the whole ship is going to burn. Mace, who didn’t like the whole idea of re-calculating the course and who does not have sympathy towards Capa and who thinks that the whole idea was Capa’s fault insists that Capa is the one who should go out into the space and fix the shield-plates. Kaneda and Capa leave the ship in order to fix the plates, the sunlight Reaches the plates sooner then they thought and Kaneda Perishes after he fixes the last broken plate. Right before Kaneda dies, Searl asks him: “Kaneda, what do you see?” He has been spending hours in the observation room observing the Sun, but he has never seen it with the naked eye.  Nobody can see the Sun and not die on a such close distance. The Sun is sacred. Searl wants to know what the Sun looks like right before Kaneda dies. The crew is in big troubles as the sunlight burns all the plants in the oxygen room. Trey feels guilt for what has happened. And now, even Mace does not deny the fact that the only option in this situation is to proceed to the Icarus I. Later Capa shows Cassie amazingly beautiful process of creating a star within a star, when she asks him if he is scared, which he absolutely denies claiming that what they are going to do is going to be extremely beautiful and answers: “No”. Total darkness, dust in the air, “no, it’s human skin” – says Searl, when 3 members of the crew go on board of Icarus I. something strange is going on, the whole system is Working extremely well, the oxygen is more than enough.

They hear a message from a captain of Icarus I Pintbaker, previously perished Kaneda was watching a video where Captain Pintbaker admires The asteroid rain, but this time Pintbaker, whose skin is extremely burnt, is raving, saying that they abundant their Mission, that all their hopes are foolish and it is worthless to go against the God. They find the crew of Icarus I, all of them were burnt to death. Something happens and the docking compartment(Airlock) is Destroyed. After a truly amazing scene, Searl sacrifices himself in order to safe Capa, Mace is showing amazing heroism, Harvey dies while they are trying to go back to Icarus II. Capa saves Mace’s life and they are back on the Icarus II. Unable to control Icarus I, the rest of the crew decide to kill Trey, but finds him dead as he committed the suicide, feeling guilty for what happened. Next following one of the most amazing and creepiest scenes in the sci-fi movies. Capa is sitting in the payload compartment, absolutely sure that there is enough oxygen to go to the Sun. When the board computer tells him that he and the rest of the crew are dying, Capa is frustrated as the board computer told them earlier that there is enough oxygen to go to the Sun and deliver the Payload if there are 4 crew members, as now. “There are only 4 crew members!” – says Capa. “Affirmative, 5 crew members!” – says the board computer. “Where is the 5th crew member” – asks Capa. “Unknown” – answers the computer. The audience realizes that something or something has gotten through the airlock right before it was destroyed.



A movie “Repo man” is a second Alex Cox’ full feature film, whose first movie has an inelaborate name “Sleep is for Sissies”, tells the story of Otto Maddox, who is played by Emilio Estevez, a young punk rocker living in Los Angeles and his adventures.



Before watching the movie I heard that “Repo man” is one of the best movies of 1984 and considered to be a cult film, which made me really excited about watching this movie. Unfortunately, after watching “Repo man” I never asked myself: “Why I never watched it before!”

“Repo man” is a movie about punks in 80’s shot on a small budget, which has tons of inside jokes relating to many political and social problems of that time, has minimalist atmosphere and symbolism in it.
The opening credits with inflammatory song, which is performed by one of the most popular singers of punk culture, make you more and more excited about the movie, brings the mood of joy and nostalgia of 80’s.
While watching “Repo man” you always ask yourself “what is it about?” trying to find the main message or, at least, the meaning of what is happening on the screen. The longer you think about all those things, the more you don’t want to continue watching this movie. The faster you resign yourself that ”Repo man” is just a movie, which is best to watch while eating Pop Corn and drinking Coca-Cola or beer the better, a movie which you forget about right after its over, asking ”What time is it?”.
The first half of the movie is quite entertaining: charismatic punk Emilio Estevez, philosopher Harry Dean Stanton, hobo Tracey Walter and scientist Fox Harris play stereotypic characters, but, probably, not so stereotypic at that time, which is really fun. But when we get to the second half, the movie turns into farce, which you want to finish watching as fast as possible, starts being very boring, the story looses its logical thread and even the main characters are not so significant anymore. The ending is kind of funny and controversial at the same time, which arouses a lot of simple questions about the story and about what is happening on the screen!
“Repo man” is trying to be stylish, charismatic and enthusiastic. Criminal L.A. of 80’s combined with stylish cars, punk culture and even aliens!


Would I like this movie if I watched it back in 1984th hard to say! As for now, “Repo man” is a movie with broken continuity, thousands of jokes, only few of which are funny, a movie which is only pretending to be cult. I have been thinking to myself why this movie is considered to be a cult film, cult for whom, for punks in 80’s who were smoking weed or sniffing coke, drinking beer and laughing like crazy, only because they are high or drunk, or maybe both at the same time and who didn’t want to think about anything. Maybe that is why all of the repo agency employees, except the security guard, are named for North American lager beer brands! And all foodstuffs and beverages are decorated with a stark white label and plain blue text describing the contents! If so, why would this movie be concerned about some political and social problems! Or maybe its cult, because it brought popularity to car fresheners, but obviously its not enough in order to become a cult film. “Repo man” hardly deserves your attention, instead of this watch marvelous “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” by Steven Spielberg, or amazing “Ghostbusters” by Ivan Reitman, which were released in 1984 and, which are far more cult then “Repo man”.




It was the 8th of January 2011 when I decided to watch Lost in translation. I had been living in Tokyo for 2 years by that time. I was very excited, because the first time I watched it, which was in 2006, I was 15 years ago and I couldn’t speak Japanese at all. This time I was 21 years old and my way of thinking and values have changed a lot since then, moreover, I could speak fluent Japanese. I could only remember some fragments, some scenes, but I didn’t remember the whole movie, all I could remember is that the action takes place in Tokyo. I started watching the movie… 2 hours after I was speechless, emotions were beaten over the edge. «Lost in translation» is a 2003 movie, directed by sofia coppola, a daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, who directed «The Virgin Suicides», a movie, which also balances between a drama and a comedy, about a relationship between a hollywood star Bob (Bill Murray) and a young recent Yale graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson).



Sofia Copolla takes us on a journey to the most biggest and, at the same time, mysterious city in the world, Tokyo. The idea of two people meeting in Tokyo is genius.
Bob doesn’t speak Japanese, neither does Charlotte. Bob’s own 25-year marriage is tired and lacking in romance as he goes through a midlife crisis, Charlotte is unsure about her present and her future and about the man she has married. Despite the fact that Bob and Charlotte has the difference in 30 years between them it doesn’t prevent them from hanging out with each other. They perfectly understand each other, soon they realize that they have been looking for each other for their whole life. Sofia Copolla subtly reveals the emotions of the main characters. An awesome scene where Bob sings «More than this» by Bryan Ferry and he and Charlotte are looking at each other is extremely beautiful. They don’t kiss each other or say anything, but you perfectly understand what they feel and what emotions are going on between them. They want to be more than friends, but unfortunately, not everything happens as we want it to happen. After 3 nights spent together Bob and Charlotte say «Bye». Bob whispers something, inaudible to the audience, in Charlotte’s ear. They know that they will never meet each other again in their life. Bob gets into a taxi, while a magnificent song, called «Just Like Honey» by The Jesus & Mary Chain is playing, he knows that he will never meet Charlotte ever again in his life, but he is happy that he met her. They will be always dreaming of each other, dreaming of an alternative life together.


Japan is totally different from any other countries in the world,  it is a totally different world. Japanese language is difficult, specific and has tons of «kanji», written letters. Japanese people are strange, they wear masks, behave weirdly and do the things, which are hardly to understand. Japan has a totally different culture and traditions. Tokyo is the most biggest, and sometimes, mysterious city in the world. There are tons of skyscrapers, glowing signboards, high ways, karaoke buildings, bars, clubs and people. The opening scene, where Bob in the backseat of a Presidential limousine, staring at an area with a lot of bright signboards, is called Kabukicho, which is in Shinjyuku, one of the biggest streets in the whole world with 1 million people passing through its station every day! It’s a place where I was hanging out almost every day when I was living in Tokyo, which brings me a feeling of nostalgia every time I see this movie, or pass by the same buildings, which were shown in the movie. Previously mentioned, the Karaoke scene was shot in Shibuya, which also has billions of glowing and flickering signboards, cafés, shops and karaoke buildings, one of the Tokyo’s youth centers. Shibuya also has always been one of my most favorite places to hang out in Tokyo. I have been to every place, which has been shown in the movie, which brings me an enormous feeling of nostalgia and joy. Japanese people don’t tend to show their emotions. They are always being compared to robots. They always act according to the system, which is really irritating and annoying sometimes. Despite the fact that Tokyo is a city with 32 million people, you feel lonely very often and that is why Tokyo with Japanese people is a perfect location for “Lost in translation”. If the place was China, Korea or Taiwan, the movie would have an absolutely different effect and subtext. People from these countries have a different way of thinking and a different mentality. Tokyo, Japan is a perfect location for “Lost in translation” story as it perfectly fits the story about two lonely people.



Despite the fact that «Lost in Translation» is a high-class masterpiece drama it has a lot of jokes and humor in it. There are a lot of scenes where Sofia Coppola subtly makes fun of the Japanese culture and traditions and, sometimes, the stupidity of Japanese’s behavior. A scene, where Bob arrives at the Park Hyatt Hotel, and a lot of japanese people are waiting for him to greet him, they start giving him a lot of business cards, he collects them in one pile, without even looking at them, is very sarcastic and ironic, because in Japanese culture it is really important to receive a person’s business card in both hands with looking at it for a couple seconds. Bob sees all these people for the first time in his life, he knows that he is not going to call any of these people, if so what is the meaning of looking at these business cards, why this fars should be obeyed if it is pointless! Or a scene, when Bob has the Suntory photoshoot and despite the fact that the shoot director says tons of sentences, the amateur translator translates only a few words, which is really confusing for Bob as he doesn’t speak any Japanese, he asks indignantly: Is that everything he said? He asks the translator: «Should I turn to the left, or to the right?» She starts informing the director about what Bob just asked saying a whole bunch of sentences. Japanese language is very difficult and has a whole bunch of unnecessary grammar structures, which could be intepreted much easier in Russian or English. The director gets angry, because Bob doesn’t understand what they want from him, but the reason of this indignation is the director himself.  Japanese language also doesn’t have “l” in it, that is why “r” is called “aru” and “L” is called “eru» in Japanese. A scene where japanese send a hooker to Bob’s room is really humoristic as she keeps saying: «Lip my stockings!» Bob:»What?», the hooker:»Lip them!» Bob:»What?» You mean «Rip them». Japanese always mix these two letters when they speak English.


«Lost in translation» is a vivid example of how one should make movies. With the budget of only 4 million dollars, which is not big money for a Hollywood movie, «Lost in translation»’s cinematography manages to be extremely beautiful and ready to give odds to a lot of Hollywood blockbusters. Every shot, every scene are extremely well composed and orchestered.  Lance Acord is doing great job with colors and contrast in every shot, the cinematographer who made «Adaptation» and «Being John Malkovich» before «Lost in translation». Camerawork is very smooth.«Lost in translation» doesn’t have any problems with the contuinity. The action matches and happens in logical sequence. The story of two lonely people in Tokyo is gripping and exciting. Having Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson on board is a huge movie’s plus. No one could perform better than these two brilliant actors. Their acting is so truthful and realistic, which makes this story even more interesting and fantastic.



Throughout the whole movie I was asking myself if Sofia Coppola came up with the story only by herself or with somebody else. Only a person with brilliant flair could notice even most meticulous details of daily life in Japan. She takes us on a journey with miraculous story. Watching this movie is an amazing experience, especially for a person who has lived in Japan and knows about Japanese culture, traditions, language features and national character.
After I watched this movie I was, literally, speechless, the emotions were beaten over the edge and it is indescribable what was going on inside of me after the movie. I was hosting two TV programs in Japan and, since I had a lot of fans I couldn’t prevent myself from sharing the experience after watching this movie, I wrote “it’s 2:48 am., and I just finished watching “Lost in translation”. I am speechless! Awesome movie!” on my Twitter account. It was a fountain of different emotions. I called my parents after I watched the movie to say that I love them. This movie made me think about life, appreciate what I have and to achieve the things I haven’t achieved yet. “Lost in translation” has awakened in me an even greater desire to be an actor and a filmmaker. One day I am going to meet Sofia Coppola and thank her for this masterpiece.



In a movie “Birth”, directed by Jonathan Glazer, a young widow from a prominent Manhattan-based family named Anna, played by Nicole Kidman, who slowly becomes convinced that her husband, Sean, who died 10 years previously, has been reincarnated in the form of a 10-year-old boy also named Sean. At first Anna is skeptical, but Sean’s intimate knowledge of their past makes her think twice.
I am watching a lot of movies, but I had never watched “Birth” before the teacher showed it to us during one of the film classes. I even hadn’t heard about it. I was very intrigued before I started watching the movie, because the teacher said that it was one of the most, if not the most Kubrickian movies since Kubrick’s death in 1999. It was two hours later, when I was disappointed about the movie, but it was not Kubrickian style of cinematography, which I was disappointed about, it was a feeling of being cheated about the false “reincarnation”.


“Birth” was not indented to make a furor among thriller movies, it debuted at the 2004 Venice Film Festival and was shown only in 550 theatres all over the world grossing only 23.925.492 in total with the budget of 20.000.000$, which is not a good rate considering the fact that the director is Jonathan Glazer, the director who made “Sexy Beast”, and the main character is played by Nicole Kidman, who needs no introduction.
“Birth” is a good example where all the distribution depends on the main star of the movie (Nicole Kidman). If you look for Birth’s advertising you won’t find even one poster or a print aid without Nicole Kidman on it, her face is also all over the DVD cover.  Nicole Kidman is one of the actresses who decided that the best way to maintain her long-term artistic credibility is to alternate big studio productions with lower-budget, edgier movies like “Birthday girl” and “In the cut”. As William Arnold from Seattle Post-Intelligencer Movie Critic writes: “Sometimes this strategy has worked for her (“The Others”), sometimes not (“Dogville”). Her latest slumming expedition, “Birth”, seems likely to fall in the minus column, though her performance in the austere, bound-to-be controversial drams is quite convincing.” Despite the fact that I am a huge movie fan and seeking for new movies all the time I had never heard about “Birth” before the teacher presented it to us in the class. I am pretty sure that, if not Nicole, who is one the main attractions of this movie and whose face is decorating the DVD cover all over the place, this movie would be lying on a dusty shelf in some old DVD store.
“Birth” claims to be a movie about “reincarnation”, but, in fact, it’s not and this is where it cheats on its audience and that is one of the reasons of its failure and bad critic response. I have read a lot of “Birth’s” reviews and a lot of them shared the same point, which I was writing about in my Birth review, which was written 2 weeks ago. Among the most significant reviews, which I have read are:
– “Chicago Sun-Times”, Roger Ebert
– “www.filmcritic. com”, Sean O’Connell
– “Seattle Post-Intelligencer”, William Arnold
Let’s dig deeper and find out why “Birth” is a controversial movie, which has been discussed for a long time and what are good and bad points in it.
Birth can, righteously, be called a thriller, which intriguing and intense beginning is troubled by its boring and questionable ending. A lot of critics have noted that the main disadvantage of this movie is that it pretends to be a movie about reincarnation, Glazer is toying with the idea of reincarnation by showing Sean’s death and child birth in the beginning, which makes the audience 100% sure that the little boy is really Sean’s reincarnation, and then trickily misleads it leaving tons of fundamental questions. Much has been said a lot about Cameron Bright’s performance, who shows no emotions in any of his movies, perfects monotonous, robotic line readings, but nothing else. He states with no real enthusiasm, “I’m Sean”, then waits for everyone to believe him. Bright has one facial expression – sleepy – so he can only carry his role so far. A key is eventually produced to unlock the film’s secrets, but the solution to young Sean’s insistence is laughably preposterous. Either Sean is Anna’s dead husband or he isn’t. By its final frame, Birth manages to avoid deciding on either option. Roger Ebert from “Chicago Sun-Times” says: “ The movie goes deep and then it takes a turn and takes a turn, and leaves us asking fundamental questions.” Glazer is falling over himself, trying to convince the audience that the little boy is Sean’s reincarnation and then completely misleads the audience.
Most of the critics have been praising “Birth’s” Kubrickian cinematography style. “Birth” is a dark, brooding film, with lots of kettledrums and ominous violins”, – that’s how Roger Ebert describes “Birth”, which, perhaps, has been the most Kubrickian movie since Kubrick’s death.  A lot of critics draw parallels with “Rosemary’s Baby” referring to Kidman’s haircut and the similarity of the apartment locations. Shot in grey, black, green and white tones “Birth” brings the mood of disparity and depicts the grief of the main characters very well. The cinematography is beautiful and remarkable, a close-up of Kidman’s face for a full three minutes during the opera performance, is considered by critics to be one of the best and key shots in the whole movie, as the main heroine starts to, firmly, believe that the little boy is her ex-husbands’ reincarnation.


The story is intriguing in the beginning, but loses its logical thread in the end and leaves lots of significant and important questions by giving very doubtful answers. The audience, desperately, demands for the reasonable denouement, but, unfortunately, “Birth” provides the audience with no reasonable explanation to why 10-year-old boy knew so much about Anna’s life and manages to ignore the most significant question “What was the boy’s motivation in pretending to be Anna’s ex-husband’s reincarnation?!” 

Sean O’Connell from FilmCritics wrote: “A plodding and pretentious thriller, this beyond-the-grave affair ends up being too art-house for the mainstream crowd and too mainstream for the art-house crowd.”





Boxing noir shot on 16 mm film!

Written and Directed by: Dmitry Demchenko
Assistant Director/Screenplay: Gustaf Lingmark


Jack Anderson’s cinematography class
California State University Long Beach