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After the overthrow of the tyrannical Nicolae Ceaucescu in December, 1989, the world became aware of the horrendous conditions in which so many Romanian children were living. Thousands of handicapped and able-bodied children were living in squalid "orphanages" and thousands more, numbering at least 20,000, were living on the streets. A combination of crushing poverty and disastrous state policies regarding contraception and child care contributed to one of the worst tragedies of modern Europe.
This documentary film focuses on the lives of a group of children living in a Bucharest underground station, the oldest in her late teens, the youngest barely past toddlerhood. The camera captures how these children live, and the ways in which they care for each other and for themselves as they endure violence and abuse, huff paint fumes from paper bags, and try to survive.
Summary:Steve James, director of the film, Hoop Dreams, spent four years filming the life of Stevie Fielding, a young man with a long and disturbing history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, learning difficulties and abandonment. The film is a reunion of sorts, chronicling how the director and Stevie get to know one another and each other's families after years have passed. Since they first met, Stevie seems to have turned from a troubled kid into a violent, cynical, debilitated young man and during the course of the film, Stevie is brought to trial for perpetrating child abuse. When the director Steve James was at Southern Illinois University, he was in the Big Brother-Little Brother programme: Stevie Fielding was his Little Brother.
Fin (Peter Dinklage)--short for Finbar--is an achondroplastic dwarf and a taciturn lover of trains. He repairs toy trains in a shop run by a tall elderly black man. When the shop owner dies suddenly and bequeaths Fin a "house" in Newfoundland, New Jersey, Fin, jobless, uproots himself to seek out his inheritance. The house turns out to be a deserted, former Station House adjacent to train tracks and is located in an abandoned section of the community.
Fin tries to make the house livable, sleeps on a sofa, and relocates the outside mailbox so that he can reach it. Once he can demonstrate that he receives mail and pays bills at that location, he applies for a library card--he is an avid reader of train lore. Fin seems content to sit on an outdoor bench, clocking the trains that pass by, reading his books, walking the tracks, and keeping to himself in his little house.
Two people interrupt his solitude: Joe (Bobby Cannavale), a gregarious young man who has taken over his sick father's food truck stand--and Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), an artist and divorcee who twice nearly runs Fin off the road in her small SUV. Joe tries repeatedly to engage Fin in conversation and comraderie; Olivia makes fumbling apologetic overtures to Fin. Fin grudgingly begins to engage with Joe and Olivia and they become a threesome as Joe and Olivia follow Fin on his train track walks, sit with him as he clocks trains, and share dinner at Olivia's waterfront home.
Each of the three protagonists is a wounded soul. Fin endures startled glances, snickering whispers, outright rude comments, and even invisibility--a supermarket cashier passes him over for the next customer because she does not see him; he longs for a "normal" body that would allow him to physically defend himself; he longs for a normal sex life. Joe is "happy-go-lucky" on the surface, but is under the thumb of a domineering father who makes frequent calls to Joe's cell phone. Joe tries, unsuccessfully, to court Olivia. Olivia is enveloped in guilt and mourning over her young son's death and thinks she is still in love with her former husband.
Two other individuals play a role in Fin's new life: the pretty, young librarian (Michelle Williams) who tells Fin that he has "a nice chin" and confides to him that she is pregnant by her boyfriend, a boorish local she has not yet told; and Cleo (Raven Goodwin), a preteen black girl who is curious about Fin's train knowledge, and seeks his friendship. Cleo enlists Fin, against his will, to speak about trains to her school class.
Olivia triggers Fin's outburst of pent-up rage and frustration: she rejects his concerned vigil, when, for days on end, she refuses to leave her house or answer her telephone. The despondent Fin goes to the local bar, downs glass after glass of whiskey, sitting alone; thoroughly drunk, he smashes his glass, climbs up on the bar, gesticulating and yelling at the crowd to "go ahead, look at me, here I am!" (paraphrase). Staggering out onto the train tracks, he falls as an approaching train barrels down on him. He smiles up into the train lights, seeming to welcome what appears to be certain death.
Summary:Morgan Spurlock decides to test the effects of fast food by eating nothing but food from McDonald's, three meals a day, for thirty days. Three physicians and a dietician are involved from the outset and track his rapidly increasing weight and declining health. Along the way he visits McDonald's outlets around the US, interviewing workers and fast food enthusiasts, and considers the implications of a recent lawsuit brought against McDonald's by customers who blame the company for their obesity.
Esther (Marina de Van, who also directed the film) is a young urban professional woman. At a party, she goes out into the dark garden and trips, falling and tearing her trousers. Only several hours later does she realize that she has seriously wounded her leg. This is either the beginning of, or the first evidence of, a radical shift in her relationship with her own body.
The doctor who stitches the wound is surprised that she had not felt injury, and tests her for neurological damage, finding none. She starts cutting at the wound, refusing to let the skin close. Her boyfriend, Vincent (Laurent Lucas) and her friend Sandrine are both concerned and repelled by her behavior. She experiences a kind of separation from her body, and it appears that her mutilation of it is an effort to re-anchor herself in her own flesh.
At an important business dinner with clients, she drinks too much and suddenly experiences her left arm as separate from her body, a severed object that threatens to act on its own. She has to stop her left hand from playing with her food and, holding her arm on her lap, she cuts it as if to make it feel, to use pain to reattach it. To explain away the damage she has done to herself, she has to fake a car accident.
Eventually the compulsion exceeds her ability to control it, and she enters a crescendo of mutilation. She hurts her body with calm, detached interest, cutting her face, attempting to tan a piece of skin she has removed from herself, even eating her own flesh. At the end of the film she is alone, in some kind of new state that is not explained.
What will the members of an isolated community do to attract a doctor? What won't they do? Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne is a microscopic fishing village on the rocky north shore of Quebec, just where it meets Labrador.
The fishery is declining, people are leaving, and the welfare payments, doled out by the pretty postmistress, Eve (Lucie Laurier), are humiliating. Ste Marie wants to diversify. All it needs to attract a plastic-bottle factory is a bribe of $50,000 and a doctor. They get a lucky break when a Montreal cop, who hails from Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne, stops the speeding plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Lewis (David Boutin), on his way home from a cricket match.
Now, the village has one month to convince the worldly young man that he wants to stay forever. The mayor, Germain (Raymond Bouchard), and several friends set out to make Dr. Lewis feel as welcome as possible. They embark on a collective effort to teach the francophone fishers how to play cricket. They flood the clinic with bogus ailments, they take Lewis fishing, they charm him with five dollar bills left nightly by a garden gnome, they force themselves to listen to incomprehensible jazz, and they bug the doctor's telephone to ascertain his tastes and commitments, broadcasting the intimate details of his faltering relationship with sultry Brigitte back in Montreal.
Eventually, Dr Lewis splits up with Brigitte, because she has been "dishonest" and he chooses to stay in Ste Marie because they are "genuine." The crisis arises near the end, when the townspeople realize that in order to keep Dr. Lewis for any time at all, they must own up to the charade of deception and offer to let him go.
21 Grams tells three stories that interlock in many ways, and it treats a wide variety of subjects, as the above keywords suggest.
Nevertheless, at the center of the film, and driving its action, is Paul (Sean Penn), a man in his middle years who gets a critically needed heart transplant and then sets out to discover, against the conventions of anonymous donorship, exactly whose heart he has inherited.
Paul’s quest brings him into close and complex contact with the other two main characters and their stories--Cristina (Naomi Watts), the grieving widow of the man whose heart Paul now has, and Jack (Benicio Del Toro), a reformed ex-con who now runs his life, and his family, by strict Christian dictates, and who is, through an accident, responsible for the death of the heart donor.
Rafael Belvedere (Ricardo Darin) is a 42 year-old, divorced, father who runs the restaurant that his parents established nearly fifty years ago. His father, Nino (Héctor Alterio), is mostly retired and makes daily visits to the hospital where his wife, Norma (Norma Aleandro), has been placed for her Alzheimer's disease. Avoiding the horror, Rafael has not seen her in a year.
Guilt for having dropped out of law school drives him to prove himself by making the business a success; he defiantly resists offers to sell. But his finances are a mess, his temper thin, and his relationships strained; he works too hard, sleeps too little, and drinks and smokes too much. Inevitably, Rafael has a massive heart attack and spends 15 days in ICU (Intensive Care Unit).
This intimation of mortality convinces him to change his life, sell his restaurant, and open his heart to the needs and worth of the people around him. He agrees to help his atheist father fulfill a romantic wish to finally marry the still beautiful but grievously departed Norma in a church, something she had long desired and he had always refused for his "principles." The priest declines the request because of Norma's disease, but an engaging solution is found.
The now famed American poetess, Sylvia Plath (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a Fulbright scholar at Cambridge, England in 1956. Angered over a stinging review of her work by the literary roué Ted Hughes (Dennis Craig), she is then charmed by his poetry and blatantly sets out to seduce him. They marry soon after.
Sylvia had tried to commit suicide several times in her youth. Recalling one terrifying near miss, her cold-seeming mother resents Hughes, sensing the power in passionate love to harm her fragile, brilliant daughter. The initially torrid life that Ted and Sylvia share in both America and in rural Britain, grows tired through the strain of two children, her lack of joy in teaching, and his greater poetic success, all of which seem to stifle her creativity.
It ends because of his chronic infidelities, reduced in this version to a committed affair with a mutual friend, the thrice-married, Assia Wevill (Amira Casar), who becomes pregnant. Rage, jealousy, and depression become Sylvia’s muse. The more she suffers with Hughes, the more productive and poignant is her work. Unable to lure him back, she leaves buttered bread and milk for her children, seals the kitchen, and gasses herself to death.
The new interns, Roy Basch (Tim Matheson), Chuck (Howard Rollins, Jr.) and Wayne Potts (Michael Sacks), begin their year of internal medicine training in a busy city hospital under construction. After initial introductions led by the vague staff man and vapid chief resident, they become the specific charges of the cynical resident doctor "Fats" (Charles Haid). Fats teaches them attitude and language: how to "buff" (improve) and "turf" (transfer) "gomers" (Get Out of My Emergency Room)--the words used to describe management of incurable, hateful patients who "never die," regardless of the abuse the clumsy housestaff might inflict. But Fats has heart.
Soon, they fall under the command of the militaristic and lonely woman resident, Jo Miller (Lisa Pelikan), who cannot bring herself to withhold treatment, even at a patient's request. She blames underlings for the failings of medicine and nature, as well as herself.
Wayne throws himself from the hospital roof because of a misplaced sense of guilt over a patient's demise. Roy falls in love with the nurse, Molly (Kathryn Dowling), but nearly loses her as he begins to emulate Jo's cold, calculating style. He is "rescued" in the nick of time by his friends, Fats, and the death of a physician patient (Ossie Davis) whom he admires. With recovered equanimity and renewed anger over the suicide of his fellow intern, Roy refuses to go on with his residency.