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Dreams of Akira Kurosawa

I visited by friend to get some DVD’s as I was very bored and wanted to watch a film , he tells me that he has the DVD of the movie DREAMS. I jump with joy thinking that it is Ingmar Bergman’s Dreams (1955) (I feel that I am the biggest fan of Ingmar Bergman).To my disappointment It turns out to be Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990).

I asked some of my online friends about their opinion about Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams before playing it in my DVD player. One of my friends says that “don’t expect it to be THE DEKALOG “, another friend says that this is one of the worst film made by Akira Kurosawa and another guy says that “If you make a guy watch this film who has never watched an Akira Kurosawa film, I bet he will never watch another film of Akira Kurosawa”.

After receiving such type of feedback it looks like I am going to encounter Mission Impossible. It is said that all the dreams which are shown in the film are actual dreams of the film’s director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. I insert the DVD into the player and now I am prepared to watch Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams.

The movie starts with ‘Once I had a dream……’

Sunshine through the Rain

This is the first dream of Mr. Akira Kurosawa in which the first scene of the film there a house and it’s raining, it reminded me of Kurosawa’s masterpiece ‘Rashomon’. The boy’s mother tells not to leave the house as when the sun is shining through the rain, the foxes have their weddings and foxes do not like their wedding to be seen by humans, but our hero (the boy) leaves the house and witnesses a wedding procession, actually the wedding procession is done by humans with their faces painted white and who have mustache like that of fox (With the help of that mustache clue we need to that what the boy witnessed is a wedding procession of the foxes). Unfortunately, the boy is spotted by the foxes and runs towards his house. The boy’s mother does not allow him to enter into the house saying that a fox had come by the house, leaving behind a knife . The mother gives an awkward advice to his son asking him to go and ask for the forgiveness . The son gives a clever reply “But I don’t know where they live.” The mother gives the address by saying “Foxes live under the rainbows.” The boy sets off to into the mountains in search of the Rainbow and he finally finds it.

‘Another Dream …’

The Peach Orchard

The second dream of Mr. Akira Kurosawa is also about a boy who follows a mysterious girl and eventually ends in a treeless orchard,he recollects that the treeless orchard is similar to the decoration of his sister’s doll collection .The trees of the orchard are cut down by his family and boy feels a sense of loss during this year’s festival.In this dream the boy has some emotional conversation with the peach trees and their pink blossoms. The boy becomes so emotional that he cries and tells that he is innocent ,as a favour they agree to give him one last glance at the peach trees. Even here the faces of representatives of the peach trees are painted white.The last scene of this dream is freezed,seems like Akira Kurosawa is inspired from Kubrik’s BARRY LYNDON.

‘Another Dream …’

The Blizzard

The third dream of Mr. Akira Kurosawa is slightly different from the previous dreams and here there are no boys instead we have four mountaineers here. The mountain which these guys are climbing is encountered with snow storm (is there any such mountain in Japan?…).The 3 mountaineers fell sick and stop proceeding forward thinking that they are going to die and only one mountaineer has the courage to move forward and obviously he the protagonist of this dream ,but even the hero of our dream is unable to move forward and interestingly he is encountered with a beautiful women who tries to stop him and crush his courage.I found that beautiful women is actually a spirit of Japanese literature who sometimes been described as evil , I learned that this spirit is often portrayed as a nude women ,here we can conclude that Akira Kurosawa lacks the audacity of Zack Snyder who showed Kelly Craig in a similar role in the film 300. At last the Snow Storm stops and as the protagonist opens his eyes he sees that their camp is just few steps away from where they have stopped. A relatively happy ending in comparison with the previous deams. Jai Ho !

‘Another Dream …’

The Tunnel

A Japanese army officer who is traveling by his feet comes across a Tunnel which is filled with darkness. Suddenly a dog (I think its German Shepherd ) comes from the tunnel and snarls at him. The army officer continues his jouney into the tunnel and when he comes to the other side of the tunnel he senses that someone walking behind him and he finds that the man is a soldier who is dead in the war belongs to his platoon. After some conversations with the dead soldier the officer is frightened ,the soldier goes back into the dark tunnel and comes with a fleet of soldiers(What an act of sweet Vengeance!) but the hero in this dream (Army officer) is successful by sending the whole troop of soldiers back into the drak tunnel.

‘Another Dream …’

Crows

This is my favorite dream of Akira Kurosawa and the reason for this being my favorite dream will be answered very soon. An art student looks through different paintings in a Art gallery and then the art student is in the search of the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh. The art student finds Vincent Van Gogh who is in a disturbed state of mind. I was a bit comfortable watching this dream as most of it was in English and did not feel the pain of reading the subtitles. Vincent Van Gogh talks some bullshit with that art student. Later we come to know that Vincent Van Gogh has lost his left ear and he is in the search of something which is very hard to predict and finally he disappears into the wheat fields and then the CROWS start flying as the dream is titled as ‘Crows’.Coming to the question of ‘why this is my favorite dream?’ . The character of Vincent Van Gogh is played by ‘Martin Scorsese’ and this is the best cameo of Martin Scorsese.

‘Another Dream …’

Mount Fuji in Red

A large nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji has begun to melt down and all the six reactors are exploding one by one.The whole sky is in Red and the people of Japan are fleeing into the ocean to save their lives.The only people left on the land are three adults and two children and all the others jumped into the ocean.Out of those three adults one of them is a scientist who is responsible for Nuclear Technology and accepts that it is the scientists fault that caused this horrific incident. The Scientist says that all are going to die with the radio activity and there is no way to escape, before dying the scientist improves our General knowledge and Scientific knowledge,he says that Japan is too small and very hard to escape,he describes about different colors emitted from the radio activity, Plutonium-239’s 10000000th of a gram causes ‘Cancer’.

‘Another Dream …’

The Weeping Demon

The title of this dream made me laugh as it reminded me of ‘Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life’ and the Demon looks similar to the ‘Keeper of the Bridge of Death’ who asks 3 Questions in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’. In this dream a man is wandering in murky mountains and suddenly he finds a Demon,at the first look he is frightened by seeing the demon but after sometime they talk candidly,share opinions,climb mountains,etc… The Demon explains about the Nuclear disaster which took place and the result of it is the huge Dandelions and humans sprouting horns,etc.. We also witness the crying of those Demons because of the pain caused by their horns.

‘Another Dream …’

Village of the Watermills

A young man enters into a village and is impressed by its natural beauty.He sees the Water Mills,children plucking flowers and placing near a stone and meets an old man in a village who is repairing the wheel of the Water Mill. The old man tells us many things, to use candles and Linseed oil instead of electric bulbs,not to use tractors to cultivate fields and tells us to use Horses and cows. The young asks a tricky question ‘What do you use for fuel?’ The old man gives a very clever answer ‘Firewood mostly(The young man might have thought that he caught the old man but..)We don’t feel right, chopping down trees, but enough fall by themselves .We cut them and use them as firewood.’The villagers celebrate death and the old man is attending the funeral of 99 year old who was his first love and by the way the age of the old man is 103 years.

I hope everyone would forgive my sarcastic approach towards this article.I have some strong reasons to be sarcastic, for me Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams is a great movie,it may not be a masterpiece but the enormous amount of artistic content involved , the message which Akira Kurosawa tries to convey to the audience , the visual vibrancy ,the Cinematography, the small characters makes DREAMS a great film to me.This film might be kept under different genres like ‘Magic Realism’,’Neo Realism’ etc.. but it captures the message perfectly .After a lot of contemplation through my inner dimensions of my mind I decided to go with the sarcastic approach, because I feel that many critics have ignored this film without looking into the finer artistic approach of Akira Kurosawa.

There are some wonderful artistic elements in each dream .Most of the dreams are interconnected. I am mentioning some of artistic elements and I have many unanswered questions too.

Key Aspects:

  • The Rainbow is the key to the first dream .It involves curiosity of the boy,search of the rainbow etc..
  • The second dreams shows the loss,beauty of nature, the dolls are the key in this dream.
  • The aspect of death,courage,fear are shown in the third dream.The character of the spirit is the crucial one.
  • This dream too portrays death,fear,war,power,redemption and regret.The Dark tunnel,the red light,the dog add too the artistic flavor.
  • The painting of Vincent Van Vough’s are itself are a riddle.The crows,the missing ear are the key to this dream.
  • In the ‘Mount Fuji in Red’ dream Akira Kurosawa directly talks about the harmful affects of Nuclear Weapons and the end of mankind.
  • In the seventh dream Akira Kurosawa show the horrific,tragic life of Demons affected the Nuclear holocaust by which he makes a very emotional statement.
  • After the horrific previous dream Akira Kurosawa shows us the beauty of Nature and says that even death can be a moment of celebration.

Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams may not be as great as Kieslowski’s ‘THE DEKALOG’ and all the dreams may not be actually of me Akira Kurosawa , it is not as great as the ‘Seven Samurai’ or ‘Rashomon’ but every dream of Akira Kurosawa is perfect and suits the contemporary world.

Originally published on passionforcinema.com

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I am listing out the best Foreign Films of 2008 which I could lay my hand on.The term “Foreign Films” means Non-English films,they might be even Indian films.


I’ve Loved You So Long

Original Title: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

“I’ve Loved You So Long ” is a very rare film which we find these days,it reminded me of Ingmar Bergman films. “I’ve Loved You So Long ” is a film which is filled with emotions of a depressed sister who is released from jail,feelings of a younger sister who she used to love when she was a child,pain of Juliette Fontaine which she never exudes.The film wonderfully depicts the sense of alienation with in a women,the difficulties of life,the desperate attempts of Léa Fontaine to make her sister feel the love and affection which she has towards her and Juliette’s encouter with every day life by facing the truth that she has lost the most loved one.Director Philippe Claudel makes a remarkable debut by handling and balancing such a sensitive story.

Waltz with Bashir

Original Title: Vals Im Bashir

“Waltz with Bashir” is a animated film about the experiences of a ex-Israeli soldier from the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War.The film is directed in a semi-documentary style which shows conversations and interrogations of various other people.”Waltz with Bashir ” has some good animation but its heart is in the story which depicts the tradey,massacre and evil.Its not as good as “Persepolis” but definitely one of the best film i have seen from a Israeli.

Gomorrah

Original Title: Gomorra

Its been a long time that we have seen good films from Italy.Gomorrah is a film which in which we can find a wonderful marriage between facts and drama.The film is mingled with five stories which depict the illegal activities which took place during a period of time in Italy.The film captures the true essence of mafia,drug business, youth,etc.. in a different way.Its an epic film of the contemporary Italy.Gomorrah also contains the seriousness in it which makes the viewer contemplate about the issues raised in the film.

A Christmas Tale

Original Title: Un conte de Noël

“A Christmas Tale” is a comedy film mixed with drama with a different flavour.This film exhibits the hidden talent of director “Arnaud Desplechin”.The film shows different feelings of different characters,the film flirts with past and present,the plot of the film looks quite simple but its been directed and narrated brilliantly.”A Christmas Tale” is a film which we can watch multiple times without having any complaints.You laugh,you smile,you think.you anticipate and you enjoy when you watch “A Christmas Tale” .

Il Divo

This italian film by Paolo Sorrentino will be called as a masterpiece in the years to come.This biographical film about Italian Prime Minister “Giulio Andreotti” is a wonderful example of story telling.The film hardly gives the true idea of what happened during the tenure of “Giulio Andreotti” but it cleverly reveals many things.

The performance of “Toni Servillo” as Giulio Andreotti is amazing,the character demands a composed acting and Toni Servillo excels in it.The films plot draws its own perimeter but it explores different aspects.The film contains wonderful scenes of trial,the confessions,the voting etc..Its not only a good Biographical film but also a good Trial film.


The Class

Original Title: Entre les murs

The novel is a autobiographical film on François Bégaudeau experiences as a literature teacher.François Bégaudeau himself acted and worked on the screenplay of the film.The film narrates different experiences of a teacher who looks himself as a different human being and the flexibility of being a literature teacher.The beauty of the film lies in its honesty and trying to evolve itself from every scene.”The Class” received the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

The Baader Meinhof Complex

At last after many years we have a good german film to watch.”The Baader Meinhof Complex” is the film about the incidents which took place during the Student Revolution in Germany and about the rise of terrorist group “Red Army Faction”.

The film shows the events which shook the whole country,the situation of the german students,the rise and terror created by “Red Army Faction” and the communist ideology.It can be seen as one of the good films which contains student revolution other being Berenardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers”.

Let the Right One In

Original Title: Låt den rätte komma

“Let the Right One In” is a vampire romantic film from Sweden directed by Tomas Alfredson.The relationship shown between the vampire and the boy is very fresh.The director’s depiction of evil in the character of Vampire is intriguing.The director creates fear and sympathy towards the girl vampire who has been 12 years for a long time.

The heart warming story between a boy and a girl has never been represented in such a way and wonderful acting by Lina Leandersson.I was very disappointed when Lina Leandersson lost the “Most Promising Performer” award to Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire”.

Gamyam

English Translation: Destination

“Gamaym ” is a telugu Road film directed by debutant Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi(Krish).Gamyam might not be the best film of 2008 from India but it is a very good telugu film,there might be films which are better than gamyam ,as i did find the chance to watch other language films i am including gamyam as one of best foreign films.

Gamyam had low production values,no big stars and new director with a very good story.The film tells about the journey of two guys Abhiram and Gaali Seenu in search of Abhiram’s love.This is a film which tells about acceptance of true love,social issues of our country and Self Discovery.I am sure “Gamyam ” will win at least one National Award

“Premani Preminchina Prema Premakai Preminchina Premani Premistundi”—Mahakavi SRI SRI

This article is originally published on passionforcinema.com

Amelie is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet .Amelie is the story of a young women and how she deals with an unexpected accident. The story looks simple and complex. The story might not be the attractive element of the film, but the way the story has been treated by Jean-Pierre Jeunet is wonderful.

Amelie has been brought up very cautiously by her parents due to some misunderstanding and she never had a normal childhood and she is lonely. One day she discovers an old box of a guy who used to live in her apartment and she decides to give him back the old box in order to make him and herself happy and she decides to make everyone happy and in this process she falls in love with a guy.

Amelie is the only film which I watched at least 10 times. It may or may not come under the list of greatest French films which I have seen but it’s definitely the film which I want to watch it repeatedly. The beauty of Cinema is before our eyes. I felt like the perfect visual treat and the best moments which my eyes can capture on the celluloid.

Many scenes in the film made me feel elated and at the same time surprised because of its absolute clarity in it. You just think that we do it and still we don’t recognize it. The minute moments of the film makes us feel close to it. Starting from the titles till the ending credits it’s just a delicious treat.

When the director mentions about the actions which the characters love, perform, hate etc.., they remind us of our daily unusual and unrecognized rituals which we do. The actions like pealing strips of paper, polishing the shoes, puckered fingers, pillow marks, cracking bones, popping bubble wraps, TV shows, dipping the fingers into sacks of grain, cracking the solid layer of cream with spoon, etc…

Amelie is a film which talks about life .It tells the actions which we do every day, infact it reminds the actions which we do. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet tells the story of everyday life, he tells how amelie had suffered in her childhood and how she is lonely in her adolescence. The Photography is very good and the color used is amazing, I wonder if we had the same scenery in our real life. The crazy camera angles just look perfect for ‘Amelie’. Amelie is not just about the young women Amelie but it is much more than that.

Orginal name:Novecento

Bernardo Bertolucci is one of the best writers of Italian Cinema. Bertolucci is the only one who can be counted with Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni as one of the instrumental people who elevated and enhanced Italian cinema to a different level. Sergio Leone always wanted Bertolucci to write the script besides Luciano Vincenzoni, but he never got the chance of writing the script for Sergio Leone. In fact he was asked by Sergio Leone to write the story and script for “Once Upon a Time in the West”, but later he was just asked to devise the story and not the script as Sergio Leone felt that the script would be too cerebral for American audience.

 Bernardo Bertolucci is the only director who can verbalize ‘The Proof of Love’ in the most innovative way. He makes his convictions of sexual love in an uncompromising manner which is clearly visible in his works like ‘Last Tango in Paris’, ‘Stealing Beauty’, and ‘The Dreamers’. I felt that Bertolucci is the perfect director who can infuse politics into films in the perfect way after watching ‘The Conformist (1970)’. Bernardo Bertolucci is the only director who never compromises on issues like Politics, Sex, Nudity and Incest in his films.

 1900

 ‘1900 ‘or Novecento(Italian) is the lengthiest film I have ever seen. I was told that I cannot find the Director’s Cut version of ‘1900’ but fortunately or unfortunately I did find the ‘302 minutes, 49 seconds ‘version which is slightly less than the original one which is 311 minutes.

 ‘1900’ is an epic film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. It tells the story of 2 friends during the 1900-1945 period. Robert De Niro (Alfredo Berlinghieri) and Gérard Depardieu (Olmo Dalcò) are born on the same day in 1900. Alfredo is born to the family of Landlords and Olmo is a peasant son.

Part1

In the part1 of ‘1900’ Bernardo Bertolucci shows the Social community of Italy. He tries to show the way in which both Alfredo and Olmo are grown in their respective communities. The first part is reserved for portraying the situation of Italy, the pathetic nature of the workers and peasants. The first part also depicts the families of both Alfredo and Olmo. The family of Olmo works in the fields of Alfredo.

Alfredo and Olmo become friends in their childhood and later Olmo leaves his native place and after many years he is back. Even after the long gap Alfredo and Olmo become more closer and they continue their friendship. Alfredo and Olmo find their women. Olmo is married to Anita who shares the same convictions of Olmo i.e. Communism and Alfredo finds Ada.The first part of 1900 introduces us to 2 characters called Attila and Regina who are very crucial in the Part2 of ‘1900’.

 The Part1 of 1900 is about 2hrs 35 minutes. After watching the first 90 minutes I lost my patience and I felt that

‘What  am I watching?’

‘Is this a Bernardo Bertolucci film? ‘

‘Does he needs to put this shit about Communism? ‘

I am very much inspired by the ideologies of Communism and I am very much aware that Bernardo Bertolucci is a true communist and an Anti-Facist but does he needs to put that much amount of his love towards communism and hatred towards facism in it. I did not even complete watching the Part1 and my feelings towards the film are almost negative but at the very end of the Part1 Bernardo Bertolucci exposes his true talent.

Best of Part1

  1. The scene in which Olmo catches the frogs and ties it to his hat.

  2. The Train scene which is used several times in the film.

  3. The scene in which one of the worker cut his hear.

  4. The last of scene of Part1 with Attila and the cat.

The last scene of Part1 took me by a surprise and i wanted to see that bertolucci who is a master in writing such unusual scenes.


 

Part2

The last scene of the Part1 raised my hopes for the second part. In the second part Olmo and Alfredo get married. Anita dies during child birth and she gives birth to a daughter named Anita and Alfredo does not have a good relationship with Ada .The first 40 minutes of the Part2 looks promising but it does not stand up to the expected and falls flat. The way in which the monster in Attila has been portrayed is just terrific. Attila and Regina (Alfredo’s cousin) are same in their perception towards communism and fascism .The last one hour of the film just shows the communism and the fall of fascism and there is no dramatic representation.

When I was watching the last one hour of the film I felt like I was watching a documentary film on Italian communism and fascism during the end of World War II .The second part just shows the fatigue part of the film. I was just hoping that film will be completed as soon as possible. I patted myself saying that I have a lot of patience.

 Best of Part2

  1. The scene in which Attila and Regina abuse a child and kill him.
  2. Killing of a pig by Olmo.

  3. The snow filled day during Christmas Eve.

  4. Killing of workers by the Fascists.

 

Bernardo Bertolucci directs a epic film which show the culture,social status of different communities and the fall of Fascism along with rise of Communism, the social status of the workers ,farmers etc…

 
I am not against lengthiest films; I loved ‘Once upon a time in America’, Schindler’s List, etc..,The problem with 1900 is that Bernardo Bertolucci doesn’t really know where the film is heading because his love towards Communism has made him to infuse many unnecessary scenes. We just don’t understand what he is trying to covey and what he is trying to convey himself.

This is definitely not a film which should be watched by normal film goers. Bernardo Bertolucci’s direction is good in parts and there are some amazing moments in the film and the way he portrays Italy is wonderful, he is brilliant in capturing the beauty of harvesting fields, the movement of the camera in the film is wonderful, he takes some long shots while the camera moves effortlessly from left to right, right to left etc .

No one could have directed such a film, may be this the best way in which any director can do.1900 falls below expectations but its a film which has to be watched by film lover’s .

Originally published on Passionforcinema.com

I came to know about ‘Caramel’ when i was looking at the list of winners of Asia Pacific Screen Awards(2007).When i decided to watch the movie i was a bit suspicious about the credibility of the film,but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.

Caramel is a film about Lebanese women who work in a Beauty salon.The film deals with the lifes of five women who are very different from each other.The film is directed by Nadine Labaki,who also stars as one of the women,.Unlike many feminist films Caramel does not show the hardships of women,it does not show the social issues related to women,it does not show the political issues related to women but Caramel shows the normal life and behaviour of common women.

The female characters in the film are just amazing.Each character is designed in such a way that it is very close to reality and very far from our imagintion.Some might anticipate of having characters like a social activist,jounalist,Human Rights member etc… ,none of the charater in the film resembles of anything which i have mentioned above,it is just simple representation of a common women and beautiful execution of the perceptions,convictions and infatuations.
Three of the five female characters work in the Beauty Saloon,two characters are the female customers of the Beauty Saloon and the other female character is an middle aged women. Nadine Labaki inspite of directing her first film she did not fall into the obvious trap of Character exxageration she just keeps everything at limits without overshadowing one character over the other.

Layale (Nadine Labaki) is in a relationship with a married man, Nisrine (Yasmine Al Masri) is no longer a virgin but she is engaged with her boyfriend,Rima (Joanna Moukarzel) has homosexual feelings, she is attracted to women and she becomes close to one of her female customer.Rose (Sihame Haddad), a tailor with a shop next to the salon, is an old woman who had devoted her life to taking care of her mentally unbalanced older sister Lili (Aziza Semaan), but she falls in love with an old guy,Jamale (Gisle Aouad), a regular customer and wannabe actress, is worried about getting old and makes others believe that she is young.

The intimate relationships and the sexual feelings does not dominate on the screen,its the sisterhood between those women which dominates .There are some obvious mistakes in the film which Nadine Labaki could have avoided , but Caramel being her first film the mistakes can be overlooked.

I being a male recommend this movie to everyone because of the beauty and simplicity of ‘Caramel’.I am not being gracious or compassionate towards Carmel but this is the kind of film which i have been looking for many months.

As expected Berenardo Bertolucci comes with a surprising and shocking theme with The Dreamers.It was beyond my imagination.The Dreamers is filled with Incest.

The Dreamers is set against the background of the ’68 Paris student riots.Eva Green and Louis Garrel are twins,they meet a guy called Matthew (Michael Pitt) and these three live togather in Eva Green and Louis Garrel house.All three have an avid love for movies, especially “the classics”. As their friendship grows, Matthew learns of the extreme intimacy shared by the siblings and gets pulled into their world. Over time he falls in love with them, and the three seclude themselves from the world, falling further and further from the reality of the 1968 student rebellions. An abrupt ending to this relationship comes when that world is shattered and they are compelled to face the reality of 1968 France.

To experience ‘The Proof of Love’ tag in the film which bertolucci owns it is very much visible,the innocence and the audacity of adolscents has been portrayed very well. Be prepared to see some audacious scenes, as we know Berenardo Bertolluci is not a man who compromises on many things.

The direction of Berenardo Bertolucci is excellent.The riots,student rebellion,classic films and the intimate relationships are showed in a very peculiar manner.As always we have a face of Communism in this film too.If you are a strong belief in morals,ethics etc..,. then i dont recommend this film.If you want to enjoy the film and the direction of Berenardo Bertolucci then forget everything about ethics and watch the film as i did.

An audacious endeavor which looks perfect on the celluloid due to Bertolucci.I recommend this to be watched only by people above 21,even at 21 i don’t think that we can comprehend Bertolucci’s artistic view.