Usually I don't write about the cinema. First of all, because once one
or another "fresh meat" by Hollywood is released, there appear a lot of
articles and reviews written by a whole army of reviewers. It's possible
to find descriptions of the masterpieces in any language, but after you
watch the majority of them the only conclusion can be a short one:
"Effects are cool, but the scenario sucks". Fortunatelly, sometimes
there are good exceptions to the norm in Hollywood. Anyway, if you're a
movie fan, you must know better than me the addresses of sites of movie
reviewers. I'm a fan of other things, like the Internet, modern computer
technologies, beautiful ladies, digital photography, tequila and heavy
metal music. But despite all of this, I was really impressed recently.
After almost an accidental visit to a cinema a couple of weeks ago I was
charmed. I just can't help sharing my impressions and to write about the
Film. Especially knowning there are too few articles about it so far.
Well, did you imagine it the other way? It's Romania. It's exotic.
To be frank, my initial feeling about Romanian cinema was pessimistic.
It seemed to me like I should not expect any kind of strong debate or
discussion even during the first hour after the show ends. On the
contrary, my friends and I have been talking about this movie's topic
for at least a week. So, the picture is called "Filantropica" and
represents a very goot mix of a comedy and irony about modern Romania.
Everything genious is simple
In spite of the fact that there are a lot of things I like a lot here,
Romania is not a real highly developed Western country or something.
It's an East European post-communist country, thus its problems remind
me of the modern Ukraine, Russia and other post-Soviet ones. In the
other words, most of them have the same economic character. It's obvious
that in a society where the government gives you everything - a job, an
apartment, a woman and everything else you may need to efficiently build
communism, not forgetting to limit your freedom to choose the place of
living or expressing your dissatisfaction, when such a society changes
quickly to a capitalist one like it happened on a big part of the
Euro-Asian continent more than 10 years ago, a big layer of people
appear. They're poor, miserable or just loafers. A lot of them are
involved into a very simple but also profitable activities - begging. I
say profitable because they're quite satisfied with it, for they usually
don't think of trying another profession. In Romania there are beggars
too. Thus, it became obvious that the script writer and the director of
the movie in the same time, Nicolae "Nae" Caranfil found the story right
on the street!
What it's about
So, the film title "Filantropica" refers to a charity organization the
head of which is involved in writing texts for.. beggars. The favourite
saying of Mr. Puiut (the Romanian translation is "a little chicken"),
nickname Pepe, - "the stretched out hand that doesn't tell a story
doesn't receive donations". Wise, isn't it? But let's keep in order. The
movie has also got its main hero..
n. pl. phi-lan-thro-pies
1. The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of
humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.
2. Love of humankind in general.
3. Something, such as an activity or institution, intended to
promote human welfare.
[Late Latin philanthropia, from Greek, from philanthropos,
humane, benevolent : phil-, philo-, philo- + anthrpos,
.. whose name is Ovidiu Gorea and who works as a Romanian literature teacher
at an elite (from what it was said there) school in Bucharest.
Personally myself I dind't find anything elite there. For example, there
was the "fuck the school" inscription on the entrance door in a room
which appeared immediately after the voice off screen said "how can a
typical door of a 12th form look like?". However, the elitism is proven
by the contingent of the pupils. The most of them are boys and girls
with celluar phones and a row of expensive cars, the doors of which open
simultaneously when the lessons are over. The dream of 35-year-old
Ovidiu is to become a famous writer. He has already written a novel and
has 300 copies printed. Though only a few of them were sold. The book is
called "Nobody dies for free" (Nimeni nu moare pe gratis).
The main actor in the film is played by Mircea Diaconu, a famous actor
who looks like a real school teacher. Moreover, after a closer look at
his biography we find out that the 53-year-old actor has experience in
teaching at the university of art of the theatre and cinematography in
Bucharest (UATC). An even more funny fact is that besides the stage,
Mircea occupied himself in literature too, having written a lot of
articles on theatrical and cinema art. As to the books, don't worry, he
wrote books too. In 1985 he wrote "Scaunul de panza a actorului", in
1977 - a book of proza called "Sugubina", and in 1980 - "La noi cand
vine iarna" ("In our places when the winter comes"). The first two were
translated into Russian and German languages. All of these biographical
facts just prove it was he was a perfect choice for the film director.
The main hero isn't doing well: recently he separated with the
girl-friend of the last two years, who was a teacher too and her only
interest was other people's children, according to the voice off screen.
Ovidiu also failed to get respect from his students, for they call him
not even by his real name, but rather with the disdainful "teachy"
("proful"). After a brief story of his life the hero concludes: "In
general, my life then was cacao" (this is a literal translation, in
Romanian cacao is used as a more decent replacement for, I'm sorry,
"shit"). During that time, absolutely unexpected, Diana appears in his
life. She is a tall blonde with impressive boobs and a charming smile.
She came to his school having introduced herself as a sister of Robert,
who was the lycee's main hooligan. The teacher had been wanting to speak
with his parents for quite a time. Because of Diana he decided to sell
all the copies of his own literature masterpiece so that to have an
opportunity to spend time with her somewhere at a restaurant or a club.
About Diana, there is a very interesting effect included into the film.
It's a commercial where the blonde is filmed. It's about a toothpaste.
On a tennis-court a school-aged boy is talking with the nice lady. "At
your place or at mine?", - she asks unmistakable, smiling, and the
commercial's motto concludes: "Domident" - anywhere". In order to prove
the paste quality the boy gnaws a racket with his teeth.
The sexy blonde
To be sincere, before I watched the movie, I'd been having more liking
for brunette ladies than blond ones. Because of their refinement, maybe.
Or due to not being stained with the current beauty trends, I am not
sure the reason. Nevertheless, the actress who played Diana managed to
change my opinion about blondes radically. Her name is Viorica Voda and
unfortunatelly, I haven't managed to find any nude pics with her on the
Internet. I'd like to take a look very much, for I'm sure there is
something to see. It would be ok if only the nude pics were the only
difficult to find thing about her, but it's not the whole story. Even
the best search engine of the web, - www.google.com, could only find
Viorica's name mentioned 45 times on the whole Internet. I want to
believe it's just because Viorica is a debutante on the screen. Yes, it
is so, and "Fialntropica" is the first movie she played in, and I
consider it as a very successful start of a career. Now just believe me
that in no more than five years this talanted actress with become an
idol. And a sex-symbol, because even in the very "Filantropica" movie
there were several scenes that won't leave unmoved men with healthy sex
Now about what I really like about Hollywood. The point is that the
guys there know for sure how to earn more money making movies. Just
after a film is released (no matter of what a kind, either it's a good
one or a one with special effects) the following sites are opened:
a) of the movie itself - www.the.name.of.the.movie.com,
b) the film director's (if doesn't exist yet) -
www.the.director's.name.com, c) of eeach one of the actors
crew (if they're debutants and don't have their own sites yet),
d) an official fan-club that leads to creating of a horde of
unofficial ones made by enthusiasts. The fan sites are then united into
web rings, etc. As to us, the East Europeans, we'll write a bit in
magazines and news-papers, will talk a bit at home and in the street,
and.. that's right, we'll forget. Really, what the hell do you need that
Internet for? A news-paper is printed in 50 thousand copies, while the
Internet has only about 700 millions users. Because of this, outside our
countries they don't know anything about our current cultural events,
movies, etc., and we ourselves treat our culture with disrespect. So,
guys, so far we'll have to admire Viorica only on the movie screen
The Girls In Our Times Love Till The Last Cent
The scene of the first meeting of Ovidiu and Diana outside the lycee
makes the audience laugh every five minutes. Once he got up and ranout
the restaurant having not paid his bill, also he proposed to the
fashionable lady to go in the subway to a club. In the club itself there
were two shocking things waiting for him.. First, the crowd was his
students' age, and the prices were the second thing. A competition
looked nice, the one with an orange held tight between the partners'
bodies during the dance. I really don't know who was the first to invent
this element in the movies. My first association was the "Pulp fiction",
but I still doubt that Tarantino was the pioneer, just memorized it this
way. In "Filantropica", in spite of the confused teacher, the dance
looked very nice and hot. The party was over quickly for Ovidiu, for he
didn't have money anymore. He commented on it the following way: "After
that I had to run out of the prestigious club. The reason was obvious -
a tooth ache".
Having finally decided to earn money and to conquer Diana, the main hero
starts to act resolutely to sell his literary work. He went to the place
where the writers elite used to gather, to one of the Bucharest's pubs.
The off-screen voice was telling that they were "poets of the Gold age,
grown on the Soviet vodka and Romanian wine, but we've got what we've
got". Really, what we saw was a cesspit where nothing changed during the
recent 13 post-communism years: fairly aged guys with a serious look are
sitting there drinking vodka and beer, eating suspicious looking
sausages. Ovidiu gave the book to the main literator as a gift and then
proposed others to buy it for a small price if they're interested. Then
he immediately gets thrown away from the "palace of the art" for his
prodigious impudence. How dare he propose writers buy a newbie's book!
The "Filantropica" Organization And Its Boss
However, the visit to the pub didn't go without result. Upon exiting he
met a guy with the look of a complete drunkard who said that he was the
North railway station poet (Gara de Nord in Bucharest). The poet said he was ready to
tell poetry for 50 gramms. Hopeless, Ovidiu decided to talk with him.
After several short and absolutely senseless rhymes the alcoholic showed
his interest in Ovidiu's book and wanted to buy it. How surprised was
the main hero to see the purse full of money that the guy took out.
"Wanna earn a lot?" - he asked - "Go to Mr. Puiut - the greatest men of
all I ever knew!".
So, we can see a semi-basement where on a door it's written "the
"Filantropica" organization". It gets opened by a secretary. In on of
the rooms there is the boss talking on the phone. Then a partner comes
to him and says that he's brought a "new batch". The following dialog
happens: "How much are you going to give?" - "Twenty percents from each
of theirs' earnings", - the partner answers. "You know, I wouldn't even
talk with you for such a money, but what can I do? I've got the soul of
my mother". Then, there is a queue of beggars lined up behind the
window, and Pepe starts the "casting"..
An old woman comes to the window and "the greatest man" immediately
starts dictating to his secretary: "Dress her in a wedding dress and
then bring in front for a church with a paper saying "My fiance died in
the day of our wedding", - "The next!". An old man comes. Pepe says:
"Made films with Serge. Serge is now a famous film director and a
senator, and myself I'm ill and unemployed". Then a child appears. "The
kid.. he'll be singing a doleful song, a bit later I'll give the text",
etc. A very funny scene. The only thing I didn't like was the text for
one of the old guys. It was about Stalingrad, the guy was supposed to
say that his eyes and his leg remained in Stalingrad. In my humble
opinion, it's not nice to make fun of such things.
Watching such things scared Ovidiu and he said he definitely came to a
wrong address and that he doubted Pepe could help him. The latter
proposed him not to hurry and invited to take a walk in his own
"Mercedes" disussing the idea he had for the teacher during the ride. In
the car they were passing along the streets and, proud like Pigmalion,
mister Puiut was showing implementations of his own ideas. First they
saw an old violinist sitting on the stairs of some kind of a building.
"Here", - Pepe said, - "the violinist doesn't pay because of the
disperation and sadness. The guy has never even played on the
instrument, and myself I tought him to hold the fiddle on his knees".
The second scene was a bank entrance. A well-dressed young guy comes to
a solid man who was leaving the building. He asked to borrow from him 50
thousand leis (less than $2), because the ATM was broken and he needed
money to pay the taxi. "Here", - the man said, and gave him the money.
Of course the latter refused to exchange contact information so that the
guy could give the money back, adding "Come on, we're humans after all".
That was exactly the reaction the beggar was expecting. In spite of the
fact that he has only 50 thousand from every "client", his summary
earning is quite a sum. Like in the joke about a guy who was judged for
a murder of an old woman. The judge asked: "What did you commit the
murder for? The old lady had only 10 cents in her purse?", but the guy
answered: "Well.. Count yourself. Tens ladies are a dollar!".
When the trip was over, Pepe proposed a "job" to the main hero, and then
gave him some time to think about it. "I wonder if you really think I'll
be begging?", - he exclaimed. "Yes, but you won't ask anyone for money".
Having thought for some time (mainly about money to get Diana), Ovidiu
Creative Work For a Teacher
The job proposed by Puiut was the following. Ovidiu together with the
"Filantropica" secretary were playing a role of a married couple on
their 10th anniversary. They had to go to expensive restaurants and when
a waiter brought the bill. As soon as they had it, they started moaning
about its being enormous and the prices unacceptable. His partner,
Miruna, started crying and Ovidiu quarreling: "Where did you see it this
way? We live in Romania, why do you have such high prices? Do you really
believe a normal man living for his very salary can afford such a
bill?". Etc. This way, they used to make other visitors of the place
feel pity and the most rich of them paid their bill. Of course, it was
discussed with the waiter before, and he added dishes which were not
ordered. Usually during all their time in the restaurant the "couple"
was just drinking coffee. The rich guys gave their money, but
"Filantropica" and Ovidiu were getting rich, having visited about ten
restaurants during an evening. The main hero looked like a real low
salary man, due to his appearance and intelligence. That part of the
film was funny especially because of the "workers'" attitude for their
work and the equipment that consisted of a pair of wedding rings and a
bunch of flowers.
Having entered to the "beggars mafia", by Saturday, when he wanted to
take Diana somewhere, Ovidiu had an expensive car, a lot of money and
could afford a visit to a cool restaurant with the friends of the lady,
who are similar to the "gold youth" type. The restaurant was located
somewhere at a side of a lake or something. Possibly it was Herastrau I
wrote about in the story about my
visit to Bucharest. All the further events for Ovidiu get tightened into
a vicious circle. On the way there occur quite unexpected things, like
the main hero appearing on the TV program where he'd demonstrate a tram
ticket, adding he's a usual man living for his low salary.
The second debutant in the film was the fake spouse of Ovidiu, Miruna
performed by Mara Nicolescu. About her I could find nothing interesting
on the Net. Judging from old theatre schedules the actress was working
on the scenes of Brasov, a nice city in
the Carpathians. Hopefully one day we'll see her personal site, maybe
even with some nude pics ;)
The Shadow Man
Despite the fact that in the beginning it looks like whole the chain of
events along with the decisions made by the main hero are accidental,
slowly it comes out that everything is made up by a genious puppet
master. The majority of the characters starting from the railway poet
and till Diana appear to be sent. The masterbrain is already known to
you, it's Pepe. Finally it appears that everything was planned before
and then implemented into life by this man, the mixture of a
businessman, an actor and a psyhologist. A very charismatic role, which
combines an outstanding intellect and the absence of principles, along
with a great passion for money.
The role of Pepe was performed by Gheorge Dinica, the artist who usually
plays negative characters with a bit of vulgarity in behaviour and the
way he talks. Being born in Bucharest in 1934 he's probably the oldest
and wisest actor in the cast. The list of movies in which the actor
performed can hardly be included in this note, so I won't give it here.
In "Filantropica" his character laughs and says in a Romanian typical
manner "Better let's sing rather than to swear" and personally follows
up the implementations of all of his genious scenarios.
As I already said, the writing and direction of the film were by the
same man, whose name is Nicolae Caranfil. Being quite young for a famous
director (born in Bucharest in 1960), he has been living between Romania
and France for quite a while. Plus, Nicolae won one of the Hollywood
festivals, so he can already be considered a world class master. Apart
from directing, his experience includes things such as acting and
journalism: in different times he played roles in a theatre and wrote
articles for news-papers and magazines. "Filantropica" proves not only
that the maestro didn't forget his Homeland, but he is also aware of the
current trends in its society. For example, the film makes fun of the
so-called "gold youth", which in spite of being a part of the student
population, doesn't even know what they study or how much tickets for
public transportation cost. Also, the beggars appear to be not as
pitiful as the impression they're trying to make.
I bet a lot of you know or at least guessed that begging is quite a
profitable business. Once I heard that in Kharkov a small gipsy begging
on a market or in the subway "earns" about $300/mo which was my
approximate salary there working as a programmer. Strange though it may
seem, it sounds probable. Also, it's almost impossible to make me feel
pity for someone because of his modest clothing and sad face, especially
if a beggar's age is suitable for working. "Go to work" - the only thing
I can say in case if such a person is too insensitive. The
"Filantropica" movie definitely removes all doubts about the "business",
undermining its grounds. Many of the people who saw it now say that they
don't give money to beggars anymore. This means, that besides being a
comedy, the film's also got a huge social message. The apotheosis can be
observed in the last scene where the genious puppet master Pepe is
lauging and says "Do you feel pity for them? They take your money!"
I heard that the picture was nominated in France, the "second Homeland"
of its director, and these days is being launched somewhere in the
States, though my own humble opinion is that it will be difficult to
understand for the people from there. The reason is that it's East
European cultural property and it's all about the different realities of
life we have here. So I think the distributors must consider other
geografical directions to work with. Hopefully, one day the film will
come to Russia and other post-Soviet cinemas. I'm sure it has a great
chance to be understood and to gain popularity there. Because it is new
(released this year in March), it's quite possible to be presented soon
in our places.
There is only one, in fact. The only place in the Internet where it's
possible to read something about "Filantropica" in Romanian. It's the
page of the movie from the cinemagia.ro site. A
little bit about the director, a bit about the actors.. A couple of
words about everything. The screenshots were taken from the same place.