A typical familly… with dead grandma in the house

Or to be accurate with grandma‘s ghost. And to be fair, none of this makes any familly typical at this point. However, this is a story about a family: a regular Russian family. In this family we see a hypochondric dad, a mom, their teenager troublerd daughter and a grandma – Ada (she‘s the boss in the house), and all this family is „The Family of Ada “ / „Ada’s family“ („Семейка Ады“). This is a story about a poor family (so don‘t expect much glamour), they live in an apparatment in poor neighbourhood (with nosy old neigbours), far from Moscow center. They lack of money, and clearly I didn‘t get the point where do they take the Money from: mom sells stuff, like cosmetic, dad seems not to work and grandma tries to win a fortune through lottery. Plus, there‘s a lot whole of old stuff at their place. But that‘s not the point, it‘s just  details.

The point is, that Ada dies. It‘s a pre- New year‘s accident: she was setting a Christmas tree, she was old and one thing led to another… She died. However, she returned as a ghost that only her family members could see. Not enough that Ada is dead, came back as a ghost she also left their appartment to her other son. Now that‘s a good news. All this was her farewell-learn-to-live-on-your-own present. Overall, grandma‘s character is awesome.

But Ada isn‘t the only crucial character. Maria / Matilda is also a very important character for this movie. She‘s this teenager who lives a life with no perspectives or motivation, just like her parents did all their life. And what‘s even more scary she understands it but is uncapable to do anything. Well, maybe to run away. And she gets this chance to leave, but then all the secrets come up.

Maria / Matilda meets her uncle (she never knew she had one), her dad‘s twin brother. However, with the appearance of her uncle things start to become even more intense. Maria‘s / Matilda‘s uncle Piotr lives completely different life than she and her parents. He‘s rich, fun, working as a producer so he constantly meets celebrities, he lives a full and luxurious life and he brings bright colors to her life. He even introduces her to her favourite band. And then the fairy tale ends as Maria‘s / Matilda‘s uncle turns out to be her father.

And at this point we face this family secrets issue. Most of the families have them: smaller or bigger. The problem is at what point should they be held and how to deal with them. Because, let‘s face it, sometimes it can be too hard to handle them. And why are they made in the first place? To protect? Prevent from pain? Sooner or later it‘ll happen anyway. Like with Matilda. It‘s good that everything ended quite well, but to find out that the man you thought was your dad is actually your uncle… I mean it‘s groundbraking news, it‘s like your entire world crashes down. Don‘t you think?

Another issue: can a showed up out of nowhere dad just take a child to live with him? Just like that as if nothing ever happened? Sure, it‘s easy you just show up, bring a lot of presents and you‘re a good dad. It‘s just buying, bribing your child, it‘s not about caring, loving or thinking about him. It‘s thinking about your own ego. To show up in child‘s life out of nowhere is already traumatic and to change his world upside down is absolutely catastrophic.

What touched me the most in this movie, was Matilda‘s telling the story of her grandma died and her realisation that if she could have helped her grandma she could still be alive. It was very sad scene that shows us that pretty often we refuse to help the ones that asks us for it. And at the same time we don‘t even realise that this might be the last time they asks us for it, and that one day we might regret of not helping them.

In this movie is also very interestingly shown that grief might come later. In case of Matilda that is exactly what happened. Her grief of loosing her grandma came at the end of the movie, though she died in the beginning. Well, in real life grief Works differently on different people as well. For some it comes immediately, for some much later. That‘s just how we are – we all are different, individual cases. Maybe there‘s something wrong when people can‘t experience and go through grief?

All in all, when you think about it, it‘s quite a tragic and sad story showed in a funny way. And even though there‘s this element of fun and comedy it still touches you in a dramatic way. And at the end, grandma showed up to reveal the secrets and bring back the family together. And the appartment…? It was just a joke.

Once in a while, discussing one movie or another I mention certain cast selection. This time I‘d like to mention Mikhail Yefremov (some might know his father Oleg). It‘s an extrmely talendted actor who can play probably anything. In this movie he played twins and he did a great job portraying two different people.

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Little nothings of life in literature

In this post I‘d like to talk about little things in life that aren‘t meaningful but can become something to talk about, to laugh at and simply become a nice memory. This my post will be related to the book, well actually with a collection of short novels and stories called „Little nothings of life. Russian satire and humor of the second half of XIX century and the beginning of XX century“. Yes, these stories I read were in Russian and it was really flattering to read them and learn what people laughed at back in the days. And now I can say that the quote from this book saying that „humor gets old quickly when it loses its meaning“ is true.

I‘m not going to tell about every story from this book, I just want to share my thoughts about this book in general. Why? Because there are too many stories to tell about.

I really enjoyd Saltykov-Schedrin‘s part from „The little nohings“ talking about education system. Especially, it was interesting to read that nothing really changed from XIX-XX century. At schools everybody are still evaluated under one given system, and if you don‘t fit in it then you‘re not good enough.There‘s still feels the lack of flexibility, individuality, creativity. Everything is still under these conservative rules and measures where a student has to be the way someone decided him to be. I think it‘s a damaging system. And the one gets lucky if he goes to university or college with more liberal politics. But the thing is we didn‘t go much further from the XIX-XX century. And this is pretty sad.

A poem „History of the Russian State from Gostomysl to Timashev“ by Alexey Tolstoy was super great. And again, I got this feeling like I was reading not about XIX-XX century‘s Russia, but about modern Russia and what is going on there today. It is a very great poem that has so many things that fit to our current time and it fits not only to Russian, but to any other country. I mean, everyone can find something about his own country. It‘s a universal poem that is relevant at all countries and all times.

In Ilya Vasilevskiy‘s writing „Without laugh“ believe it or not I found the prediction of artificial insemination. I mean, how weird is that? The end of XIX century and the beginning of XX, could there be such thoughts at all? Sure, these writings written with humor and satire, and here we go – artificial insemination. Stuff that was probably such a science fiction back then is quite regular thing today. Who‘s laughing now?

Some of the aphorisms and thoughts were were interesting. I found these very interesting: „It‘s better to say less, but well“, „Death stands at the end of life, so it would be more comfortable to get ready for it“, „Where‘s the beginning of that ending with which the beginning ends?“.

I am telling you these novels were supposed to be about fun and laugh, about entertainment, but after I‘ve read them I thought that this was some smart ass stuff I’ve read. Alongside with entertainment it was smart. And when you start to think about these novels, analyze them, you realize that they are even more deep then you thought at firtst. And some of them doesn‘t feel to be about XIX or XX century. So, if any of you who‘s reading this post will ever by any way gets a chance to read it – do it. You won‘t regret it.

The apocalyptic knowing

The apocalyptic, end of the world movie „Knowing“ starts back in 1959. That‘s right, to start the main story we are brought back in time. The beginning of the movie was great, I probably loved it the most because it  caught you up in the story with all this mystique, secrets, you‘re all in this „ooh,what‘s going to happen now“ mood. I like when movies cathes my attention from the very first second, when they have some sort of pre-history of the main story line. I love when a certain story told in the film has this connection between past and present. And maybe even future.

A little girl – Lucinda writes a letter which is put into a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years. But her letter isn‘t just a picture as it was thought to be, she wrote a page of numbers that looked more like a code. And after 50 years a boy amed Caleb accidentally finds this letter and all the hell breaks loose as John (Caleb‘s dad) decodes that letter. Turns out those numbers reffered to certain dates of disasters and numbers of victims. And three sets of numbers reffered to those disasters about to happen – Lucinda knew all that will happen way before it actually happened. At the same time Caleb starts to hear whispers just like Lucinda did and notice weird people who once gave him black stone (and what was up with those stones in this movie anyway?). These people are like an alien-angels who came to take Caleb and Abbey (a friend of Caleb) to another planet and give them a chance to start all over again because the Earth is going to burn down. There, it was a short synopsis of the film. Nothing very special, but there were few things that I would like to point out.

Though it was science fiction, apocalyptic movie, it is still nice that it sent (on purpose or not) some social message. In this case it was single parenting. It is hard to rise a child alone. And of course it is hard for a child to grow up with one parent. It‘s not a secret, it happens for different reasons but especially it is hard when one of the parents dies. A child grows up with never ending feeling of loss and missing. Caleb also misses his mom who died as well as his dad misses his wife. John deals quite badly with the loss of his wife and being a single dad at the same time. And after witnessing an airplane crash he becomes a total mess. For me it was this sensitive part of the film. As wel as, John‘s relationship with his parents, especially his father. Their relationship are very difficult. It is sad when adult people can‘t overcome their arguments, differences. I mean it is family after all.

Another thing that I thought was about these people who can forsee certain events. I mean this kind of knowing might drive one crazy. Isn‘t it horrible to know about certain things and be unable to change them? It‘s pretty desperate knowing. As same as knowing that sun which is thought to be the one that provides life actually one day might kill us all for real and there‘s nothing we can do about it. Quite paradoxical, however, sometimes even the craziest ideas and theories turn out to be true.

It was very nice to see Nicolas Cage who plays a single father, astrophysician in this movie, eager to find out the truth. N. Cage is a good actor and see him in movies is a joy.

Must mention that certain scenes looked pretty impressive. Specifically, those of accidents, like airplane crash scene. It was really massive and pretty realistic. As well as metro accident was pretty huge. I know it‘s fiction but still metro seems to be pretty scary for me due to the fact that it is underground and it is pretty closed place.

The ending was way weaker than the beginning. Beginning made more sense. I didn‘t enjoy the ending much. I mean new planet to live in? Doubt it. But of course after an end there must be something else. I don‘t know what but something should be.

Psychoanalitic trio

Today I would like to discuss a very interesting film about three very interesting personalities, moreover, it‘s a story about true people who lived once and the whole world knows them.  I‘ll be talking about „The Dangerous Method“ film that tells us the story of Carl Jung, Sabina Spielrein and Sigmund Freud – people who lived very interesting lives.

We are introduced with Sabina as she becomes Jung‘s pacient due to her hysteria. We are introduced with the way Jung treated Spielrein and what discvoeries about her condition and what triggered it he made. Basically, we are introduced with Jung‘s approach to psychonalysis which was, in fact, offered to him by Freud. Here we also can observe that women‘s mental health (especially nervous breakdowns) is a  very difficult issue, having very serious reasons. All this mental health issues can come up because of the way women are treated (especially by men), it can affect them very deeply, but people sometimes (still) think that women get crazy because they don‘t get enough sex. Bullshit. As same as to claim that ALL of our problems come from our childhood and our relationships with parents. I thing that throughout our lives (right from the minute we are born) we face and are affected by lots of traumatic experiences that marks our mental state. And those traumas not Always are based on sexual reasons.

But it was interesting to see woman feeling guilty about being sexually arousen, especially when that happens because of weird stuff like being spanked naked by your father. I don‘t say this is something a person should be proud of, but feel guilty? About what? Your physiology, or psychology you can‘t always control.

If you aren‘t eager to read all the stuff that Jung, Freud and others have written on psychoanalysis, then this movie is great opportunity to catch up with some parts of this. Of course, it would be  just a tiny part, but still. It‘s interesting to observe how relationship between Jung and Freud change. From admiration and friendship to this collision with harsh disagreements and I would even say jelousy (judging by this movie, it seems that Freud was jealous of Jung‘s wealth – „Don‘t trust aryans. We‘re jews“ he told to Spielrein). But can‘t disagree that Freud (an old fox that he was) didn‘t start this huge sexual, psychoanalytical revolution. I mean, he opened the gates and gave a chance for developing it. That‘s huge.

And all this explanation of dreams. It sems what can one get from analyzing dreams? There‘s just loads of stuff, images that has no meaning. Freud managed to prove that there actually is something there. And that there hides important and even difficult things. Like human sexuality. It only seems to be an easy thing, but actually, the whole understanding of it and expression of it is quite a difficult question.

What I liked, was the way a line between monogamy and polygamy is drawn. And how to cross this line for some people is hard, but as soon they find the right trigger they are willing to cross that line, as well as, Jung crossed it with Spilerein. And Otto Gross worked as that trigger quite well, because he thought supression of one‘s libido leads to nervous breakdowns and that‘s why for psychoanalyst to have sex with his patients is OK. In general, relationships between men and women are portayed very interestingly, unusually. Maybe it‘sbecause of the historical time, maybe it‘s because of who the main characters are. In any case, it is interesting. But at the end the main question remain unanswered: is monogamy possible? Is it possible for both men and women? And what makes it possible/impossible?

Sabina Spielreina was a smart and interesting woman. However, judging from this movie, she used to be sometimes as regular, jealous woman who let her passions and emotions take control of her. And K. Knightley‘s work made Spilerein look slightly too neurotic. However, her transition from Jung‘s patient to his colleague, becoming equal to him is amazing. And she is great example how Freud‘s and Jung‘s methods and ways of treatment worked. Nonethless, it should be mentioned that Spielrein‘s and Jung‘s attraction may have risen from the fact that they had so much in common, same interests. So maybe that is also the reason why the spark between them grew and Spielrein (in the film) makes a move on Jung which later turns out to be love, though in reality (as far as I know and I can be wrong) it wasn‘t proved whether there really was love between them. What I didn‘t like about her that she involved Freud into her and Jung‘s relationship. This was very immature and unfair to Jung. In general, after watching this film I felt kind of sad for Carl Jung. He was shown to be very unhappy man.

One more historic figure – Otto Gross. Gross was an extraordinary persona: free soul, taking everything he could take from sex (having sex with his female patients was OK to him) and maybe this explains a thought that all sexual limitations and boundaries results eventually in fulfilled asylums, because all neurosis come from the lack of sex and it was hard for him to understand that someone would refuse pleasure that you can get from sex. Nonsense. Maybe his lifestyle was the reason that his further life were leaded by veneric diseases, addiction and misery. Otto Gross ended his life very tragically: some say, he died of starvation, others say that he died from pneumonia, the thirds say he froze outside on the street. Yet, Gross was probably and illustration of psychoanalytical failure or weakness‘s of psychoanalysis. Now, this kind of life that Gross shared is described as rock stars lifestyle. However, putting all this aside, no matter what Otto Gross was like, but what he was and how he behaved, lived influenced and changed Jung. This is exactly the case when a patient changes doctor, not vice versa.

Well, this time I also should mention a very good cast choice. All the actors played their characters perfectly. And looked very similar to those whom they played. Especially, in my opinion, was made a great choice with Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel. I also loved that at the end we could learn what happened to these main characters. For me it was quite nice. Plus, it didn‘t leave the story unifinished.

A bracelet as simbol of secret love

Recently I‘ve been all about books. Can‘t keep a balance between books and movies, it‘s either one or another. OK. This time I‘m going to talk about Alexander Kuprin‘s beautiful yet sad story called „The Garnet Bracelet“. It‘s not a long story, but for me it was really beautiful, even though it‘s really tragic. It‘s one of those times when you sincerely feel sorry for the characters as if they were true people, though they are fictional.

The main character Vera gets as a present this garnet bracelet from her secret admirer. She knows that there exist this man who secretely loves her, he stalks her in a way, but no one knows who he is. At this point, situation is really creepy. And then she gets this bracelet which is extremely expensive and rare jewelery. No how would you react to this? At this point expensive jewelery is a nice present, but when it is from your stalker? Then what? Nothing, really. A present from a stalker is a present from a stalker. It‘s not good.

Now, someone may think that Vera‘s stalker was a rich guy. But no he wasn‘t. Her husband and brother managed to find him. It was a poor, regular man Zheltkov. And at this point I started to feel sincerely sorry for him. Not that I say stalking is good thing, but the pure feelings Zheltkov had for Vera were amazingly beautiful. I mean he saw her, fell in love, but he never intruded in her life actively, well aside from writing her letters and sending presents once in a while. But he never showed up to her, he never tried to seduce her, or ruin her family. Now, he loved her, even though he knew there won‘t be no response to his love. He sacrifised his own happiness and chance to be loved. He just loved a woman from a distance…

So at one point, some can say that Zheltkov had a sick obssession with Vera. Maybe he had. But the way he dealt with obssession demands some respect because there are people who cannot deal with their passionate love in such a deliquete way. What‘s more shocked me about Zheltkov that at the end of the story, when Vera returned him bracelet he called her and she said that she could live calmly if he would be absent from her life. So I was shocked that Zheltkov understood her words so directly, so he commited a suicide (even though he explained that he commited suicide for differrent reasons) so she could live calmly. This is insane. I mean, can we call that a sublime love? Or was he just really sick? I don‘t know what would be the right answer, but what he did seems to me to be grand, even though I don‘t know why. Because, you know, suicide can‘t be seen as a grand thing to be done.

Who knows maybe under different circumstances Zheltkov and Vera could have been the happiest couple in the world. Unfortunately, things went different way and only Zheltkov experienced part of that love, and Vera… Well, Vera only had the feeling that there was huge love around her that did not enter and reach out for her.

At this point, we might think that in this story Vera is an unhappy character. She didn‘t experience the greatest love of all. And she‘s the one who is left with knowing there won‘t be such love in her life anymore. Zheltkov, on the other hand, had that all, and he left with that knowing.

So you see, this is a simple, short story, but how much tragedy it contains. And how much love. I don‘t know if kind of love exist in real life. Tragedy – it does exist. But love? I really don‘t think there is such feelings. Or maybe it does. Rarely. It‘s hard to tell. I don‘t know any single person who would have experienced it. But maybe there are such people. Probably they are the happiest people in the whole world.

At the very end, I‘d like to say that there are other beautiful and interesting novels by Kuprin. I didn‘t mention them here, but if you are interested in his works – go on and look for them. I think you won‘t be disappointed.