Tales of times

If Sieranevada by Cristi Puiu highlights the issues that dog middle class Romania, Jodie Foster harvests her storyline from the woes of investors today

Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu portrays the issues that dog the Romanian middle class in his film Sieranevada, set in Bucharest.

The occasion is the memorial service for the protagonist’s father and the family has come together. The main thing is to prepare the feast and then wait for the priest who is delayed. In the meantime, all omissions and commissions among family members, including some couple cheating on each other come up during heated exchanges. The loss of communism and the ideals the people stood for before it crumbled and the chaos that is prevailing presently in the entire country, 9/11 and all the issues crop up to rail against each other. Amidst all the bickering, shouting and pushing, the food is eaten, courtesies exchanged, apologies extended and they depart hugging and kissing.

The entire film shot in a run down apartment with a few rooms where the doors open and close constantly and people move from one room to the other room either to fight or to drink and eat. “We live in a world of which we know the limits” commented Puiu. “That is why the setting is closed, and it takes place in a space cut off from the world.”

The film starts with the traffic mess on the street outside the apartment and the misunderstanding between the couple as to where they should go first and the costume he bought for their daughter’s Snow White performance. It continues inside the apartment and on the streets, sometimes turning violent and physical. The camera covers the dark rooms and some bright areas of the apartment in midshots and closeups at the eye level, as if some one is gazing at all the happenings.

Cristi Puiu said that the story for the film emanated from the first memorial service of his father and the incidents that took place there. “Meals are a way of ritualising things, which speaks to all cultures because it exists in all cultures… Put simply, the recurrence of dinner table is a tradition, but it also gives a false sense of solidarity,” said the director.

Actor-director Jodie Foster’s Money Monster is a take on corporate siphoning off of investor funds for personal profit. Jodie Foster holds up a mirror as to how the corporate bosses in collusion with television channels play and artificially hype the share market which draws several small time investors who invest their hard earned money hoping to reap a rich harvest sooner than later. When the money evaporates, not because of business loss but due to insider’s hands and the company crumbles, the individual investor suffers the most.

One such irate investor, thinking that it is the television channel and the host of the programme that misled him to invest, takes over the studio violently and insists that the programme is broadcast live with him raging to kill the host. The producer Julia Roberts and the host George Clooney have to think furiously as to how to get out of this situation. However, as always, the poor investor has to take a hit, financially and physically.

The film is gripping though bizarre at times leading the protagonist through the streets with a gun to his head and bomb filled vest on his shoulders while the live coverage continues. The powerhouse cast and bold narrative — as to how a corporate Chief of Communications and a television channel can put a spin in favour of a particular company while the funds are vanishing from its books and what can be the worst reaction from individual investors forced to lose their precious earnings — are the hall marks of the film.

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