Category Archives: movie review

Woman in Gold: A Marvel, Reclaimed




We all join Maria Altmann in her pain, on her shivering, almost unbearable journey down one of the darkest memory lanes not just of her youth, but in all of Modern history, echoing the memories we are ALL DESTINED TO CARRY ON IN OUR OWN DNA

The emotions, ethos and events portrayed so accurately, so vividly – flashbacking beyond time right into our minds – it is heart-breaking, really…

To us all, descendants of the victims, it is a deep pain engraved deep within our hearts.

For all time.

And a longing to be reunited with the lost loved ones that may never come to pass, no matter the amount of rejubilating man-made justice (or the archives hosting countless paintings, letters, pictures or personal belongings and whatnot, constituting the bits and pieces of our families’ neshames, of our families’ souls… forever lost.. deserted, shattered), delivered against all odds.

There is no way to restore MILLIONS of lives – taken away to be never reborn in the generations to come and family stories to follow; they had no offspring to continue the line and tell their stories – and the WORLD cherished by us, but destroyed brutally by the Nazis, shall their names be eradicated from the face of the Earth.

But there is a CALL of DUTY FOR US ALL to Remember, to NEVER FOFGET.




A Calling that Mr. Shoenberg and Mrs. Altmann so courageously pursued.

In and out of Austria, in and out of the brutal past, ‘facing the ghosts…’ and the “incontestable” indifference of their present.

Giving voice to those whose names were shutted out in the tunnels of history…


Such is the sad, painful truth… the movie proclaims (all so brilliantly!).

ITS CLOSING SCENE IN ITSELF A MASTERPIECE – the canvas and its beautiful sitter COMING ALIVE…



Yet to the Jewish audiences around the globe, it is not a mere promise – or a case – of a possibility of a long-awaited justice, a Victory making history 68 years on, that sets a precedent; it is a mirror of our national tragedy and trauma, enhancing the pain that will live on in the generations to follow, resurfacing it… bringing it alive, the gaping wound – NO GENERATION GAP HERE – open SORE.

To be never healed.





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The Magic of Italy! Under the Tuscan Sun…

Impressions of one adventurous and artistically inclined young woman


totally taken in… with Italy


18668 Under-the-tuscan-sun

#Signs #Love #Lovely #Beautiful #Amazing #‘Dare alla luce’ [1]


UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN is a brilliant movie. I absolutely loved it!

It is so beautiful that I actually cried (shedding those happy tears).


Because of the lovely nature, because of the lovely affair, because of the lovely… Italian life.


Thanks to this marvelous Work of Art I am now absolutely in love with Italy and all things Italian.

Totally and completely. To the very depth of my soul.

Sono assolutamente innamorata dell’Italia e tutte le cose italiane belle! [2]

Including the gorgeous, adventurous, sensuous Mediterranean men.

For Raoul Bova is just so goooooood.


“Diane Lane’s American character is smitten with more than the scenery after meeting Raoul Bova.” — Lawrie Zion


Leaving the subject of the amazing Italian men aside though, this movie is in the end a ‘must’ experience: a must-see, a must-admire, a mustabsorb.

For ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’

And this — is not some picture, it’s the picture.

THIS — is an absolute MASTERPIECE.


It will capture you by the magical beauty of Tuscany, Positano and Rome — con la bellezza di Roma… [3] — by the miraculous beauty of the Italian life itself — colorful, vivid and impulsive.

under the tuscan sun

MAGICAL. Mesmerizing.

…By the fabulous beauty of nature, and the amazing inner beauty of the Italian people, by the beauty of the Italian culture itself.



It tells love stories.

This movie proves vividly that Romeo e Giulietta [4] could only ever be born in Italy. Loro sono adesso [5] the present-time Polish Pavel and the Italian Giulia who are absolutely, helplessly and desperately in love. Despite all the odds.

And the passionate determination of Pavel’s to prove that he is no worse than any born (AND bred) Italian man is — in and of itself — striking. Striking enough for him to win over his own Juliet’s heart.


And no wonder: the show of ‘throwing a flag’ is completely amazing; nothing short of mind-blowing, breathtaking.

The scene with limoncello (ann.: – lemon liquor), too, is absolutely fantastic, just as all the other magnificent scenes set against the backdrop of the spectacular Italian scenery.



As is undoubtedly the childish lady in a fabulous outfit who loves hats, which along with an ‘uno gelato’ (ann.: — an Italian-style ice cream) make her happy.

“There’s nothing like a fountain and a magnum of French champagne to put you right again,” says Katherine (Lindsay Duncan) quoting Sylvia of the legendary Italian “La Dolce Vita”, herself steeped in frivolous fountain water. Only, the French champagne here being the luscious and divine Italian limoncello instead.


Lindsay Duncan who portrays this extravagantly frivolous and exquisite British lady, with a mysterious Italian soul, is extremely elegant (if not vividly provocative) in her performance.

As is Diane Lane (Frances) — so funny and moving yet simply hilarious. Just as she always is.


And so are the cheezy lines in the screenplay:

Marcello (Raoul Bova): ‘you’re probably one of those crazy American women like Charlie’s Angels…’

Oh yes, INDEED. She truly is.

And so much more.

M.: ‘… you probably think that I want to pull you up—‘

Frances: ‘to pull me up?? [puzzled look] ah.. to pick me up, pick me up!’

So humorous. So passionate. So natural.

Yet so dramatic, so deeply beautiful in her own vulnerability — all at the same time. Just as she always is, in all of those perfect trademark-performances she happily gives.



“Never lose your childish enthusiasm, and things will come your way.”

— Katherine

Oh, and they absolutely do.


As landscapes change, and seasons come and go, the main heroine herself will unwittingly undergo a miraculous transformation from a sad, desperate yet funny and ironic, and (in being so) a typically American woman called Frances into an incredible, fabulous Italian donna Francesca.


And in the end… she’ll get her wish.




Love and family, in the very house under the Tuscan sun that once used to be deserted, restless; rebellious, empty, wild. Just like her.




Now, it’s a cozy place where Love rules. Just like in her heart.


And a previously immovable old man (with the flowers) she was so curious about finally pays his regards to her.




But this movie is no more American than Italy (‘il bel paese’) itself is, with its world-renown and non-exportable ‘la Dolce vita’ and ‘il bel far niente.’

For it managed to capture the spirit, the soul, the essence, the very character of the delightful Italian life.

Once again I can’t help thinking that Audrey Wells, the director and screenwriter of the picture, is in fact an absolute genius.

Italians say that ‘il primo piacere della vita è essere italiano.’ Che vero!!! [6]

And as this marvelous picture shows, their whole culture is filled with love; it is full of love — for children, for people, for delicious food, for music — for Life.

Joy or la gioia then is nothing but the essence of being Italian.



[1] dare qualcuno alla luce — to give birth to sb., to bring sb. into the world

[2] I am absolutely in love with Italy and the beauty of all things Italian!

[3] With the beauty of Rome…

[4] Romeo and Juliette

[5] They are

[6] ‘The greatest pleasure in life is being Italian.’ How true!!!

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Jane Austen Regrets…



“My canvas is just a little bit of ivory, two inches wide, on which I work with so fine a brush.”


based on the movie Miss Austen Regrets, a beautiful film, and a BBC romantic drama, uncovering the drama of Jane Austen’s personal life, visualizing on the big screen the green luxuriance and openness of England’s space, and giving us, the viewers, the readers, the worshippers of her infinite talent (all those worshipping her talent beyond time) an insight into the life of Jane Austen and into her world; into her heroes’ era, her characters’ way of life.


Jane Austen Regrets… But who doesn’t regret something in their life? 

Not just for a moment? Not for an instant? Not for a split second?

Is it at all possible not to regret anything? entirely? Completely? Hardly, for that is not human nature. 

And what is? Jane Austen knew better.

Royal England of the early 1800s…

These were the years when Jane Austen, the Writer, was born. It was the time of setting convenient marriages and joining fortunes. A time when a woman, unmarried, was considered a failure, as if the roles of a faithful wife and good mother were the only ones she was ever capable of performing in a society.

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

(Chapter XII, Jayne Eyre)

An excellent example set by Miss Austen proved that wrong, terribly wrong, in fact. Her ‘career’ span 6 masterpieces — novels delivered with such sparkling beauty, clever humor, and those ever-witty, forever-quoted lines that they won even His Royal Highness King George IV’s sincere admiration.

Still, despite their unquestionable literary excellence, during her lifetime the authoress’ books enjoyed quite a moderate success and popularity, and none had her name printed on them — titled to have been written “By a Lady” AND YET THEY HAVE NOT BEEN OUT OF PRINT ever since.

BUT TRUE TALENT can be only fulfilled through sacrifice. And she had made that Sacrifice — a sacrifice of the true human Happiness of her own.

And even though she had never in her entire lifetime been happily married [or married at all, for that matter], never did meet her own Mr. Darcy; never did give birth to any children—who may have turned out just as brilliant as she did herself—the literary legacy she has endowed the world with, the contribution she has made to the British nation (and the entire universe of readers) is inestimable, insurmountable. Immense.

Her stories are her children, and they are simply genius.

“They are my darling children… I send them out into the world to compete with the likes of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron… And yet I have accomplished so little in my life. I have seen so little. My work is so small.”

In fact, she had accomplished LOT. Her work had liberated women, marking the transition from the 18-century neo-classicism to the 19-century romanticism in English Literature.


Her books provide us with the cultural background of her era, of her time; they enable us to dive into the culture and atmosphere of her century all the while taking in all the mannerisms and manners of those days; absorbing them in, getting a feel of them.

And in the end, who doesn’t regret something in their life? in hindsight? staying ‘forever undone’…

At the dawn of our days, we’re all likely to reflect upon our lives and past behaviors, wishing to undo our past mistakes, wishing to have made the right decision, the right choice at the right time, of knowing-it-all beforehand…

In the end, we’re all wishing to turn back the hands of time and live our lives differently, in one way or another.

[But we can’t. That is THE TRAGIC TRUTH.]


In Jane Austen’s nature, however, there was a talent unique and yet unprecedented in the entire history of English Literature. A talent for uncovering those elusive, carefully crafted features of the very nature of human relationships, bringing them to light through the art of melting words and sounds; and for resurfacing features of human nature hidden so gracefully — skilfully and masterfully — to her readers’ delight and to the clever judgment of theirs, and to the appreciation of all those descendants to come and follow.

How very brilliant, in that, indeed, she was.

And though she had never once in her entire lifetime ever been abroad (enjoying much the rural placidness of their comfortable cottage in Chawton, which provided a safe haven for her to write), the insights into the inner worlds of her characters are deep and voluminous, as ever, and have been winning the full, utmost Readers’ attention at all times.

‘Passion is made for the young. It fades so quickly. Comfort remains, friendship remains. But the fuss we make about whom to choose… And love still dies, and money still vanishes. And every woman, spinster, wife, widow, every woman has regrets. So we read about your heroines and feel young again, and in love, and full of hope, as if we can make that choice again. This IS the Gift which God has given you. It is enough, I think.’

Enough it is:

Jane’s Ageless. Her work is Timeless.

Regret Be An Old Lady.

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The delicious taste of “Chocolat”: movie review


The Delicious taste of
Chocolat: Movie Review

An exquisite taster

The film was released in 2000, and is a fine way to show how one charming single mademoiselle (and simply a good person) can change the conventional life in a village, for the better.

The movie is a joint US/UK production and was considered “One of the Best Pictures of the Year” by the Los Angeles Times. 


It was the 2001 Oscar and Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture, Best Actress (Juliette Binoche), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert Nelson Jacobs) and Best Music (Rachel Portman).


This romantic melodrama (and certainly a lovely comedy) is set in Flavigny, a French medieval city dating back to the 10th century, portraying the placid French town of Lansquenet where life is all peaceful and quiet.

Traditions are expected to be strictly followed, and the Church is its foundation stone — the life of the whole village revolves around it, as if events took place in medieval Europe.

Nothing seems to have changed since then, nothing much…

Anything that can disturb the order of things is considered a taboo, a threat, and is not welcomed by the mayor of the town, who himself is deeply religious.

Fortunately for him, so far things are going along their ordained path… 

That is, until one cold winter day in 1959… a charming traveler is brought in with the sly northern wind, a wind of change… — a lady who’s going to settle in the village for a while… renting a patisserie and the apartment above it.

And from that moment on, nothing is ever going to be the same…

That very moment being the point-of-no-return, — Indeed.

2018-05-18-00-39-42.jpgThe time for change comes when she opens “The Maya Chocolatier,” starting her own business in what-one-would-consider the most inappropriate place for this of all — the orthodox village.

Neither is the timing perfect — with the upcoming season of the Big Lent, it becomes a major problem for the mayor. And he is going to deal with it, no matter the cost for his lovely, dear guest.

Even if it means losing her business.

But, by Easter, her business is still running, whereas for the mayor things are getting out of hand.

He tries to turn the villagers against her, saying that she’s indecent; she is “a bad influence.”

But Vianne manages to make friends with almost everyone in the village, in the process — changing their lives for the better, bringing vivid colors into the previously monochrome life. In the end, she turns out to be “a good influence” after all, including the one she had made on the mayor himself.


Initially, Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) is strictly conservative, if not austere, with a condemning look strewn over his face.

Vianne herself is by no means conventional; she’s been travelling with her daughter, living in different places, all around the world: Andalusia, Vienna, and before that — Athens, — Pavia.

At night, she tells her stories not of princesses and princes on white horses — and in white carriages — but of “The Princess and the Pirates!”

And when the mayor, welcoming them into the community, kindly invites Vianne (Binoche) with her daughter (Thivisol) to Sunday Mass for worship, she thanks him for the invitation but says “they don’t attend”.

She then also asks him to call her Vianne, as she had never been married!

And as one of Anouk’s schoolmates asks the newcomer-girl about her father, she says that she sure has one; they just don’t know who he is.

None of this really fits into the Catholic framework of the conservative, provincial town they’re guests in.

As legend has it,

Mother and daughter… are fated to wander from village to village…  dispensing ancient cacao remedies… travelling with the wind, never settling down, just as Chitza’s people had done…  for generations.”

No wonder that Vianne, Chitza’s daughter — now a mother herself — wandering from village to village, from country to country, from land to land, with her daughter, Anouk, has a knack for guessing people’s favorites. Not only is each chocolate she makes a piece of art in itself, having its own unique flavor, but she instantly knows whose favorite it is.

And thus far she is doing really well.

[That is] Until… a mysterious and handsome Gipsy Roux comes ashore the dull green waters of the river on his boat. He appears to be a ‘hard nut’ to crack. She just can’t seem to guess his favorite.


The handsome and brilliant Johnny Depp is at his most macho portraying Roux, playing the Spanish guitar gracefully.


And by some mysterious, vague, foggy chance of fate, he happens to play the very same guitar tune that Vianne’s mother used to sing to her as a lullaby in her distant childhood, — the tune a nostalgic echo of the faraway memories, mystically, masterfully mirrored back at her many years on.

But Roux is an outsider, and making friends with him means making enemies with the others; yet Vianne somehow, interestingly, even seems to welcome that challenge.

The mayor stands up to such defiance, eventually losing the battle. Feeling devastated, he finally lets things go, in the end finding himself strangely relieved.


Gradually, life in the province of Lansquenet changes unbelievablyenormously — the village is now free of the tranquillité, and Vianne — of her wanderer’s destiny. Roux is magically back in town, brought in with the southern summer breeze, and back with Vianne, to stay  she finally discovers his favorite… Josephine takes over Serge’s bar, turning it into… a new café. Pantoufle’s bad leg miraculously heals and ‘he hops off in search of new adventures.’

In the closing scene, we find the mayor’s ever-so-austere monument stretched in a fine and forgiving, lenient (if albeit somewhat indulgent), permissive and kind smile, symbolizing the Happy Ending, brilliantly mastered and achieved.



The scenery is stunning. Most mysterious… Inspiring. It feels as if the wind itself is an unspoken character, a ghostly figure in the story whose (outspoken) presence indicates a twist in the story, a major change yet to come — the change that can be felt in the frosty air… noticed in the slight motion of the cameras… almost palpable, tangible, sensed…


The mysterious music — shifting from place to place, from scene to scene  is yet another, everpresent character of its own. Inspiring, enlightening and intriguing at times, it is a fusion of the Gypsie, the Spanish and the Ancient Mayan motives. Together, they create an incredible atmosphere, introducing into the story a spirit so unique and wonderful that certainly makes it one-of-a-kind, with a truly European feel to it.


The characters, too, are typically European and very natural.


The original movie soundtrack is considered a masterpiece in its own right, earning the iconic Oscar-winning film composer Rachel Portman her second Grammy nomination for Best Score Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture and a World Soundtrack Academy Award nomination (2001) for Soundtrack Composer of the Year (Chocolat, The Legend of Bagger Vance).


The camera work is most brilliant by far! The imagery itself a haunting reminiscence of the medieval period…

No wonder it won the movie team an Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design (Contemporary Film), a British Society of Cinematographers and a BAFTA Film Award nomination for Best Cinematography (Roger Pratt), Best Costume Design (Renee Ehrlich Kalfus), Best Production Design (David Gropman) and a nomination for Excellence in Period/Fantasy Film (Renee Ehrlich Kalfus) from the Costume Designers Guild Awards.

Beyond doubt, one could, truly, hardly find a French village more authentic to portray the conventional lifestyle of the French countryside in the whole of France.

A 2001 American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Awards nominee for Best Edited Feature Film (Andrew Mondshine),

“It’s built of such exquisite craft — the acting, the decor, the photography, the music — that to refuse it is to refuse the very sensations that draw us to art, romance and maybe even life itself.”

— Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian

249So, if you get the chance, you should certainly go see this movie; it is a fine film in itself, simple yet mysterious. What it has to offer is the cast’s charming and natural performances, breathtaking scenery and those almost irresistible, vivid images of the Chocolatier. Surrender to its seductive taste and aroma. Plunge into the mysterious and legendary atmosphere of the European city covered in mist.

Feel its aroma of m y s t e r y . . .  

Discover the ancient Legend dating back to the Ancient Maya`s that still lives on in the 20th century. Feel the delightful taste ofChocolat”.

For it’s quite worth tasting…

delivered by Stacey Mazur

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