Tag Archives: Serb

In the Land of Blood and Honey

17 Mar

Review: In the Land of Blood and Honey

Angelina Jolie’s feature directorial debut

By TOM MEEK  |  January 5, 2012

Much has been said about Angelina Jolie’s feature directorial debut set against the bloody Bosnian conflict of the 1990s — vanity project, plagiarism, and so on. Putting that aside, Jolie has loosely reworked the story of Romeo and Juliet in an infamous setting familiar from CNN but here seen from the inside. Serb police officer Danijel (Goran Kostic, looking very Daniel Craig–like) and Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim artist, make a fetching Sarajevan pair until the war hits and they’re relegated to opposite ends of the ethnic equation. Muslim women are brutally raped as a tactic, so Danijel, now an officer and the son of a prominent general, attempts to shield Ajla. His power is limited, and fate and internecine rage take over. Jolie’s narrative power also has limitations, but thanks to the cast and chaotic historical backdrop, the horror of hate and war takes on a compelling human face


Kolya and Prisoner of the Mountain

17 Mar

R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 02/06/1997, B: Tom Meek,


Foreign correspondence

Kolya and Prisoner are moving tales of war

by Tom Meek

KOLYA. Directed by Jan Sverak. Written by Zdenek Sverak. With Zdenek Sverak, Andrej Chalimon, Ondrez Vtchy, Lilian Mankina, Iren Livanova, and Libuse Safrankova. At the Kendall Square.

PRISONER OF THE MOUNTAINS. Directed by Sergei Bodrov Sr. Written by Sergei Bodrov Sr., Arif Aliev, and Boris Giller. With Sergei Bodrov Jr., Oleg Menshikov, Jemal Sikharulidze, Susanna Mekhralieva, Alexei Jharkov, and Valentina Fedotova. At the Kendall Square.

During the first half of the 1990s, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences developed a penchant for awarding the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to such lite romps as Mediterraneo and Belle Époque while slighting works with real integrity and depth, like Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine. In 1994, the Academy interrupted this trend of false merit when it bestowed the distinction upon Nikita Mikhalkov’s stirring masterpiece Burnt by the Sun. This year, with the submission of the Czech Republic’s Kolya and the Russian Prisoner of the Mountains, the Academy will have two more opportunities to atone for past miscues.  Continue reading

Welcome to Sarajevo

17 Mar

R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 01/08/1998, B: Tom Meek,

Bosnia calling

Michael Winterbottom’s scathing Sarajevo

by Tom Meek

WELCOME TO SARAJEVO, Directed by Michael Winterbottom. Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, based on the novel Natasha’s Story, by Michael Nicholson. With Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Emira Nusevic, Kerry Fox, Goran Visnjic, Emily Lloyd, and James Nesbitt. A Miramax Pictures release. At the Kendall Square.

Michael Winterbottom is perhaps the most-talented, least-known filmmaker of the moment. His fledgling accomplishments — Butterfly Kiss, the tangy road movie about two lesbian serial killers, and Jude, featuring the red-hot Kate Winslet in an idiosyncratic updating of the quintessential Thomas Hardy novel — demonstrated the British director’s knack for visual storytelling. But neither film would serve as an appropriate yardstick for what Winterbottom has achieved with Welcome to Sarajevo, the first cinematic rendering of the Bosnian conflict.

Based upon British war correspondent Michael Nicholson’s novel Natasha’s Story, and piquantly peppered with other journalistic reports from the front line, Welcome to Sarajevo is a blistering docudrama, as refreshing as it is horrifying. Told through the eyes of Western journalists, the film doesn’t concern itself with the nebulous details of the Bosnian Serbs’ terrorist assault on the city that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics; instead it’s a simple, eloquent, chronicle of Sarajevans’ daily struggle to survive. Winterbottom sets the film’s stark tone in the unassuming opening sequence as his camera follows the ceremonial preparations of a bride and her wedding party. The pageant frolics along, carefree and unconcerned, until the rip of a sniper’s bullet terminates the moment of jubilation and ushers in the shocking reality of civil war.  Continue reading