Commentaries on films are few and far between. Most comments I have are made in reviews or as part of a specific article or reference in the context that it is intended for use. This particular instance was prompted by a series of events that in hindsight as the saying goes, left the compelled feeling of ‘say it out loud’!
This time of the year movie reviewers world wide are going over our logs, notes, and list of movies we’ve screened for the past year to arrive at the usual lists we need in reference to voting for our ‘best of’ and a wide range of items needed to make official movie press statements.
As regular readers over the last 10 years who read my writings know that foreign language films are my favorite movies for viewing! These films provide a reflective view, no matter what point in time, of the differences in social mores from our own here in the United States. To see and hear, in the native language of that country provides such an insight that is truly remarkable for me. In fact, I’ve been a judge in the foreign film category for the annual Phoenix Film Festival awards for the past 10 years along with a host other foreign film related organizations and associations.
Three weeks ago as the process started for the nominating of movies for the 24 categories for the annual Phoenix Film Critics Society awards, my executive assistant Cynthia Tracy said ‘So, it starts again, one more time! [With a chuckle]’ Before we go any further, I officially state for the record, that the last five years that she has been on board, the success that I’ve attained would not be possible without her assistance. For my national print outlet which my column ‘Screen Scene’ appears in the Resident News ‘Newsletter’ with over 1 million subscribers in 48 states, Cynthia prepares a breakdown of the sometimes over 30 movies relative to genre, MPAA ratings, watches trailers, etc. which is a tremendous help to narrow my choices for the handful that are selected for the column. The same process takes place again each month for my Phoenix, AZ print outlet The Entertainer! Magazine, a monthly publication. So Cynthia, you’re the best, couldn’t do it without you!
When I arrived at the foreign film category for choices and glanced through the list of foreign films I screened throughout the year, it was the one category that held no doubt at all as to what that choice would be. It is the film ‘Ida’, written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. A film in the foreign film category hasn’t moved me quite sometime, on an emotional and cinematic level. As I thought it through, the best way would be to pass along the original coverage I provided for the film starting in May 2014 just before the release on 23 May 2014.
A very gracious ‘thank you’ to Rebecca Gordon, the public relations executive for Music Box Films in Chicago (my hometown by the way!) for making my chat with director Pawel Pawlikowski happen. You’re the best!
Following are the original items as they appeared for my choice for the best foreign film of 2014, ‘Ida’ written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski.
Congratulations on winning the European Film Award for Best Picture of 2014!
The following reactions are from each of AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine's film columnists: Stan Robinson, Randy Montgomery, Joseph J. Airdo, and Herb Stratford, in an effort to generate a well-rounded overview of this weekend's new movie releases. The original AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine issue this item appeared: 21 May 2014 issue.
Agata Trzebuchowska plays a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. (PG-13 - 80 minutes)
Stan: With black & white static scene shots, tightly stitched characters, and a stark reminder of my own search for identity, this latest film from writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski, who’s last film ‘The Woman in the Fifth’ (2011) is a favorite, once again presents an intriguing theme: Often one has to go full circle to arrive at that all important point of finality to move forward. (Must See!)
Randy: It has been a while since there has been a really good film released. ‘Ida’ is easily one of the best films of 2014 so far and is a strong contender come awards season (if it is not forgotten). It is always nice to get releases of this caliber mid-year, but they are often disregarded in the fall. Director Pawlikowski has done an amazing job with a talented cast in a visually bleak film that packs an emotional punch. (Must See!)
Herb: Without a doubt one of the most gorgeous films of the year, with amazing black and white cinematography haunting this tale of loss, pain and mystery. The film expertly captures the miasma of early 1960’s Poland, the dark secrets buried there and the people left behind to deal with them. This is a mesmerizing work from start to finish. (Thumbs Up!)
The following quotes were pulled from interviews conducted by AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine's film columnists: Stan Robinson, Randy Montgomery, Joseph J. Airdo, and Herb Stratford, with talent speaking on behalf of movies recently released in theaters. The original AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine issue this item appeared: 21 May 2014 issue.
Writer/Director Pawel Pawlikowski (‘Ida’)
By Stan Robinson
In a conversation with writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski, which by the way took place by telephone while he was in Poland on 13 May 2014 on a visit back to the city where the film was shot, was quite revealing in the fervor I heard in his voice as we chatted about bringing his story to the big screen. As a retired filmmaker, the excitement I heard in his voice, again awakened the feeling I often have when the opportunity to chat about production with filmmakers. And, as those of you regular readers are aware, they are not the usual ‘Q & A’ style most reviewers engage, rather an informal chat between filmmakers!
Pawel Pawlikowski ~ “It’s a story that has been in the back of my mind for years and the desire to make a film in Poland set in the 60s. Its my first film in Polish, I left Poland when I was 14 and I’ve gone back to live there now so the film is part of a big life’s journey, going full circle and not just to Poland but also to the 60s when I first became aware of the world so it’s a return in many ways. I am in my 50s now and a bit more reflective about things.
“We filmed for 39 days and I tried to shoot the film chronologically so that the theme would progress naturally but the weather wreaked havoc so we couldn’t shoot like we wanted. It wasn’t a very expensive film, the budget was around $1.7 million, and at the same time I didn’t have a lot of technology involved in shooting, and as you say, I didn’t move the camera and didn’t have cranes or cherry pickers for lights so what I saved in technology and equipment, I used for spreading it out in time so it was quite a generous shooting schedule. I shot one scene in the morning and one in the afternoon or night.
“Shooting in black and white, using a lot of ambient sound, and I was rewriting the script as we were shooting. I keep writing all the time, writing during rehearsing, writing during location scouting, and writing during filming which gave the film a flavor all its own.” – Pawel Pawlikowski
The original AZ Weekly Entertainment Magazine issue this item appeared:
21 May 2014 issue.
Film Columnists Stan Robinson, Randy Montgomery, Joseph J. Airdo, and
Herb Stratford ‘Grades’ for movies currently in release as of 23 May 2014!