"Ti i ja" by Zdravko Čolić (1975)

Practically unknown just a few years earlier, by 1975 Zdravko Čolić was such a hot property that no less than five recording companies competed against each other with his releases - in addition to singles by Beograd Disk, Diskoton and Suzy, both PGP RTB and Jugoton came with his LP album in the same year - this is actually something quite unprecedented on local market and I can't think of any other name that got the same treatment.

If PGP RTB secured themselves nice piece of action with compilation that rounded singer's earliest recordings, Jugoton went for completely new material tailored specifically for him - Kornelije Kovač (his old boss from time in Korni Grupa) shoulders most of songwriting task, while no less than Arsen Dedić and Kemal Monteno were also invited to participate in a project that was meant to establish young singer as a unstoppable supernova and they all surely did good job because ever since Čolić basically never lacked media attention. Add Goran Bregović to that mix and you get curious amalgam of names that around the same time collaborated on each other's projects - Kovač also produced album for Dedić who praised Monteno on every occasion, while song "Loše Vino" eventually reoccurred again very next year on album of Bregović's rock band Bijelo Dugme. Surrounded with such seriously talented musicians, twenty four year old singer simply couldn't fail but it must be noted that he was genuinely up to task and vocally he was absolutely convincing in anything they threw at him, be it fluffy pop jingle "Život Je Lijep, Helene-Marie", bombastic pop hit "Zvao Sam Je Emili" or genuinely dirty rock "Igraš Se Vatrom" where guitarist from Indexi (Slobodan A. Kovačević) burns in the background - the last one has Bregović's signature all over it and it is a rare occasion where this artist experiments with rock, something that he rarely did in the future. In hindsight, ""Ti i ja" served as test ground for various directions he might explore and from now, the rest of decade Čolić was our biggest pop star with such enormous following that this new phenomenon was seriously analysed even in political circles, where surprised bigwigs discussed is he a good influence on our youth (contrary to wild and obviously untamed Bijelo Dugme, Čolić was eventually considered wholesome and not threatening).


"Osvrni Se Na Mene" by Stidljiva Ljubičica (1981)

Stidljiva Ljubičica (The Shrinking Violet) was a short-lived, early 1980s Croatian rock band that managed to forever leave mark on my life, however not for the reasons one might expect - neither their music or messages actually registered with me - you see, I was hormonal teenager besotted with a classmate whose house entrance was "adorned" with a poster advertising the band's upcoming concert and every single time I walked the stairs leading to her apartment, this poster was looking at me and I wondered what kind of name is Shrinking Violet. The poster was forever there, layers of other stuff eventually glued over it but I could still see it from inside glass door - same picture as on the album cover - it probably outlived the group itself, which disbanded very next year, while my visits continued for the rest of decade until the object of my affection became a mother, alas not of my children.

Fast forward some three decades later and this album finally came my way - touched with sudden recognition of picture from mysterious, indestructible poster, I listened it with greatest interest and discovered surprisingly charming rock/new wave debut by bunch of small-town youngsters who actually sound far more refreshing and original than some of contemporary big stars. It might be their youth or energy, but the album brims with nervous vitality associated with new wave and the best of all is songwriting - unlike most of the songs released at the time that dealt with generic subjects, every number here is a little story written by Zlatko Đurašina and several times I found myself chuckling with amusement at his witty ways with lyrics, this was not just some macho rock posturing but urban and quirky little vignettes about young students with big dreams and empty pockets, eccentric characters and everything that goes trough the mind of someone who is young, angry and obviously well read. For all their talent and enthusiasm, the band apparently didn't really have strong contacts in the business and ended as curiosity which is perhaps fitting because they appear as a strong burst of fresh inspiration destined to wither amongst seasoned veterans who already learnt how to sail murky waters without asking too many questions. Title song is one single hit they ever had and this little gem of album is unexpectedly endearing discovery that deserves re-evaluation. 

"Pan's Labyrinth" ("El laberinto del fauno") by Guillermo del Toro (2006)

Quite unlike anything else I remember seeing on the screen previously, this unforgettable movie deals with contrast between children's fantasy world and harsh reality that surrounds them. Its almost as Guillermo del Toro tapped in something we are all aware but chose to forget, how it was to be small and vulnerable amongst grown up people with their problems and big arguments. Instead of creating movie for children, he decided to present it as allegory of childhood with very dark undertones, so its not really for kids - too disturbing for little souls who shouldn't be scarred with something so brutal - but for mature audiences and apparently I am still not completely grown up, since I found it occasionally very disturbing.

Little Ofelia lives in a fantasy world of fairies and fairy tales, while civil war rages all around her, people are tortured and killed left and right - her innocence protects her from understanding this and she is too busy following her magical friends from the forest. In the meantime her mother suffers difficult pregnancy and stepfather is cruel Captain Vidal who haunts countryside rebels, unaware that one of them is in his own household as a spy. It is quite a gripping story and director (who also wrote script himself) tops it off with spectacular visual effects that make it looks like Disney horror movie - Ofelia's supernatural friends, visible only to her, are unforgettable and I must mention faun who is actually genuinely spooky and threatening, he is obviously older than humans and there is something sinister about him but Ofelia is too busy with her fantasies to notice it. 

I watched it recently for the second time and again got carried away with it to the point that I was protesting loudly, while friends wondered why do I care so much because "its only a movie" - well, the part of me is obviously still child like Ofelia because for me movies are not just movies. My music, books and movies as as real as anything else around me and often much more important, some of us are just born that way and we never lose it. 

"Lightning" by Dean Koontz

In the most dangerous moments of her life, Laura Shane is always saved by appearance of mysterious blond-haired stranger who comes out of nowhere, followed by lightning. He is here to protect her, than disappears as quickly as he came. What she don't know is that he was there on the day of her birth, to assure that drunken doctor would not let her crippled as was written in her destiny. Unfortunately, he is not the only one checking on her. 

This is seventh novel by Dean Koontz that I read this summer and at this point I think it would be wise to take a break. It came after his smash hit "Watchers" and his publishers insisted on follow up with another novel with lovable dog, which Koontz declined - in his witty afterword he describes the battles he fought to get "Lightning" published instead and what it meant to him to have artistic freedom instead of being shoehorned into box, which I perfectly understand (although Watchers" is still my favourite of all his works). Often we see authors pigeonholed once they achieve success and they end up repeating themselves (Dan Brown is a perfect example) so its refreshing that there are still people out there ready to take risks. However, this one is not really earth-shattering suspense, although it was a best-seller - it starts just fine but my personal impression is that somewhere along the way Koontz got a bit carried away with research about technical details which cluttered the story itself to the point that for the first time with this author I left the novel aside for a while, until I decided to finish the darn thing. For some reason this appeared far more interesting in the beginning than later when story should come to some logical conclusion but it felt just perfunctory. Perhaps, deep inside, I expected another "Watchers" and didn't want to admit this to myself. Its time to move on to something else but I will definitely return to Koontz at some point. 


"Count on Me" by Julie Grant (1994)

Delicious slice of early 1960s pop from a singer who somehow faded in obscurity, although she was as good as anybody around. The first time I heard wonderful Julie Grant was on some 1960s compilation, probably "Here Come The Girls" where she rubbed shoulders with likes of Sandie Shaw and such, it intrigued me enough to look everywhere for this compilation that collects all her recordings for Pye Records so we are talking about years 1962-65, roughly the years of British invasion. Grant was just a teenager back than, only sixteen at the time of her first single and producers obviously wanted to follow in the successful footsteps of another deep-voiced teenager Helen Shapiro - however, the lighting didn't struck twice or perhaps the gimmick was too obvious, in any case Grant was every inch good as Shapiro but with less luck on the charts.

"Up On The Roof" and "That's How Heartaches Are Made" are obvious highlights here amongst bunch of uptempo 1960s numbers and while its true that due to her youth Grant probably didn't have much choice in selection of material, there are some genuinely delightful songs here like "Baby Baby (I Still Love You)" or "Watch What You Do With My Baby" that show how music inspiration floated between both sides of Atlantic - if anything, Grant is often more convincing than original versions. Allegedly her contract with Pye Records eventually expired and overworked (and probably disillusioned) singer passed over the offer to introduce new song by Tony Hatch called "Downtown" and continued performing in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. If you like classic girl-group sound, this one is for you. She might not have big hits but I guarantee that Julie Grant was one of the best female singers of her time. 

"Sing And Perform "Funny Girl" by Diana Ross & The Supremes (1968)

One really had to admire determination of Berry Gordy, Jr. who strived to establish his artists as all-round entertainers - someone else might be content to have them recording hit singles but Gordy wanted his stars to be equal to anybody around, so if the biggest stars commanded big fees in places like Las Vegas, London's Talk Of The Town and New York's The Copacabana Nightclub, he made sure The Supremes got the same treatment. If this music direction seems a bit odd today, don't forget it was all about breaking the racial barriers and placing Afro-American musicians on the same footing as everybody else, even if it means that girls had to sing "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody" for jaded supper club audiences. Ever unstoppable Gordy arranged for them the whole album of Rodgers & Hart show tunes and the next step was "Motown" take on biggest Broadway sensation of the day.

Appreciation of such project really depends of listener's familiarity with the original and I have my doubts about it today, but back in the day "Funny Girl" was perhaps the last true Broadway smash hit, with songs that were actually chart hits and it was not a coincidence that Gordy wanted this album released just when cinema version by William Wyler hit the big screens. It was clear message that "Motown" set its ambition towards Hollywood and label pulled all stops to prove that they are equal to anybody - quite a daring challenge, coming from guy whose grandfather was a son of white plantation owner and his female slave - one can't help but be impressed with Gordy's capacity for dreaming big dreams. Diana Ross relishes the chance to step in Streisand's shoes and her small voice works surprisingly well in what is basically showcase for female lead, while The Supremes are reduced to occasional noise in the background. Insignificant and obscure when compared to their better known hit singles, it is still little obscure gem and to this day the only time anybody came dangerously close to Streisand in her most famous role. The only criticism would be that music sticks too closely to original and chance was missed to add that particular "Motown" upbeat touch to Broadway original - only "If A Girl Isn't Pretty" is updated to a dance number, while the rest cautiously follows Jule Styne music note by note. 


"Tvornica glazbe – Priče iz Dubrave" by Siniša Škarica

Kao mlad urednik u tadašnjem "Jugotonu" Siniša Škarica je svojevremeno - poput većine svojih vršnjaka - bio fokusiran isključivo na rock i tadašnje mlade izvođače kojima su festivali i estrada bili ono protiv čega su se borili. S vremenom, Škarica je sazrio i prihvatio da su upravo ti stariji kolege bili njihovi preteče koji su svatko na svoj način probijali led - danas je Škarica jedan od rijetkih ljudi koji se iskreno trude održati uspomene na generacije glazbenika koji su desetljećima obilježavali neke druge, ranije generacije. Njegovi eseji prate većinu kompilacija koje danas izdaje "Croatia Records" i u čast 70 godina ove diskografske kuće sad je pred nama knjiga koja je ne samo zbirka Škaričinih popratnih eseja već i presjek prvih dvadeset godina ove glazbene institucije. 

Poput legendarne knjige "Bolja Prošlost" Petra Lukovića, ovo se ne čita nužno kronološkim redom - budući da je to u suštini zbirka portreta, "Tvornica Glazbe" je jednako fascinantna na kojoj god ju stranici otvorili. Bilo da se raspravlja o atmosferi poslijeratne zemlje koja se našla u procijepu između istoka i zapada (što je rezultiralo velikim zanimanjem za Meksičku glazbu), različitim žanrovima koje je "Jugoton" objavljivao ili pojedinim zvijezdama što su svojevremeno mnogo značile, Škarica svemu prilazi s velikim poštovanjem i entuzijazmom, uvijek ukazujući kako je sve to bio odraz vremena u kojem smo živjeli a i mijenjanja ukusa široke publike koja je, konačno, odlučivala o tome što je popularno i uspješno. Kao kroničar tih davnih godina, on je tip osobe koja sve te silne detalje, anegdote i diskografske crtice zna učiniti zanimljivima i njegov zaigrani stil pisanja je istovremeno individualan i posve fascinantan, pokazujući kako je u dubini ostao mlad duhom i još uvijek ima strast za glazbu. Iskreno se nadam da će čitatelji pokazati interes za ovu knjigu (koja je popraćena poklon zbirkom najvažnijih pjesama iz pokrivenih godina) i da će se uskoro pojaviti nastavak koji bi analizirao kako su novi trendovi i mladi talenti istisnuli šlagere iz prvog plana. Ne radi se samo o nostalgiji (većina ovih izvođača je bila popularna prije nego što sam se ja rodio) već i o potrebi da se fenomen domaće popularne glazbe ozbiljno sagleda dok su njeni arhitekti još među nama.
Najzanimljije tek dolazi - kupim ja knjigu (dok sam plovio po Aziji našao sam ju reklamiranu na web stranici mog dragog Petra Lukovića)  i čitam ju s najvećim zadovoljstvom ali nije to nešto što se čita sve odjednom, nego zbirka eseja pa kud te inspiracija ponese. Prije par dana dođem ja tako do poglavlja koje se bavi počecima Arsena Dedića i na moje najveće iznenađenje tu Škarica citira moje vlastite riječi kada sam onomad 2014. napisao osvrt na Arsenovu prvu ploču na kojoj je mlađahni Šibenčanin pjevao twist - tu sam se ja nešto zezao, bio sam očito dobre volje ali nisam bio zločest ni sarkastičan nego iskreno iznenađen da je naš šansonijer pjevao "Let's twist again" pa mi je to ovako bilo zgodno i neobično. To se Škarici očito jako dopalo i činilo mu se simpatičnim pa je naveo, dapače citirao moje riječi navodeći kako su to misli jednog duhovitog, anonimnog blogera. Još mi se nije desilo da čitam knjigu o kojoj nađem samog sebe pa mi je to naravno bio doživljaj dana i bio sam strašno ponosan da jedan takav glazbeni autoritet kao Škarica zapravo uopće čita moje glazbene recenzije. Nema veze što sam ispao anoniman, to uopće nije bitno (tek sada sam shvatio da se nigdje na mom blogu ne spominje moje ime) no tek da se zna, dragi Siniša Škarica ako ikad ponovno svratite ovdje, mi smo imenjaci. 


"Dalida" by Dalida (1970)

When faced with such intimidating discography of artist who worked for many decades, like French music icon Dalida, sometimes it appear complicated where to start - only hit singles or few selected albums will present just a small part of the picture, as such longevity usually covers completely various genres and directions. Dalida in particular is fascinating, as she appears to have re-invented herself very often and went trough many metamorphoses which are genuinely interesting to explore: she was stylish torch singer in the 1950s, happy, upbeat poster girl trough 1960s, disco diva in the 1970s and glamour TV show star in the 1980s. 

This self-titled album (maddeningly, one of many released with same title) is perhaps one of my personal favourite, as it depicts Cairo born singer in a curious early 1970s phase when she was reaching forty and decidedly leaning towards more melancholic, ballad repertoire instead of what was she recording previously. Dalida always had beautiful, husky voice and stunning stage persona but too often trough 1960s she went for anything that was popular on the charts, so you would find her covering everything from "O Sole Mio" to "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" - at some point lady herself obviously had enough of this and in 1970 came with this beautiful album that is pop in performance but chanson in spirit. "What Have They Done To My Song Ma" opens the collection and it just gets better from there, with sophisticated songs by Mikis Theodorakis, Nicola Di Bari, Pete Seeger and Cat Stevens where her curiously calm and seductive voice works perfectly because its suddenly free of artificial cheerfulness - she is actually at her best in reflective material, obviously much closer to her heart. For good measure, we also have two upbeat hit singles, Greek "Darla Dirladada" and "Ram Dam Dam" that was originally recorded by Korni Grupa as "Trla baba dlan" but these are disposable jingles when compared with romantic ballads that are heart of this collection. This early 1970s is probably my favourite chapter of her music, before she will discover disco and leave beautiful melancholy behind.

Mladen Perić & Slaven Janđel photography

Found some really beautiful photographs of Mladen Perić and Slaven Janđel that deserve praise, I loved them and decided to grace my blog with them - they are taken here around my neighbourhood in Croatia and if you check these guys out, there is much, much more. They are both easy to find on Facebook.

Mladen Perić

Slaven Janđel 

"The Handmaid's Tale" TV Series

I am actually not so crazy about watching TV series anymore - its not what it used to be when I was growing up and every Monday you had to run home at certain time to follow the latest episode of "Dynasty" or "I, Claudius" or my early favourite "Worzel Gummidge" (about the scarecrow). In the meantime production values have transformed what was relatively inexpensive production into wondrous, cinematic experience but most importantly, thanks to internet, following some TV serial nowadays mostly means you will binge watch without a break, from the first to the last episode. On some instances I found myself truly hooked and couldn't sleep without checking out the next episode. "True Blood", "Lost" and "Game of Thrones" were just some of experiences - they were fun and I still love them, but in the meantime some uneasiness crept on me, the idea that I am becoming addicted to something - so I rather read instead.

However, a good friend recommended "The Handmaid's Tale" and he just continued on how brilliant and great it is so he intrigued me. I read the novel some twenty (thirty?) years ago and still have vague idea about the story, but must admit this turned much better than I expected. For one thing, production is excellent and without much special effects we are drawn to this post-apocalyptic world where people are sterile and the fate of humankind depends on group of forcefully enslaved girls who happen to still be fertile - Handmaids have to serve as mothers for families of important political officers whose wives are barren, while Marthas are housekeepers. In general, its a very bleak world where women have no power whatsoever and are legally forbidden to work or have any say outside of their homes. During the political takeover (that we witness later, in flashbacks) June (Elisabeth Moss) has been separated from her family and friends, now she is imprisoned and trained as Offred because her new master is Commander Fred (Joseph Fiennes). There are lot of other characters involved and all of them potential spies who might get Offred hanged if she is not careful - the driver, Martha, other Handmaids and so on, by far the most fascinating is Commander's wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) who is shown as cold, calculating and cruel but we also understand her pain for not being childless and strangely enough, later in series we learn that Serena was once very important and capable politician, now silenced and shoehorned into role of a housewife. Unfortunately there is no warmth or understanding between her and this new intruder, who is here only to serve with her womb and keep out of the way - it is very gripping and occasionally horrifying story, I just finished the first season last night with greatest interest but not sure do I want to continue.

The reason why I am in doubt is because this first season ends exactly where the novel originally ends and this is perhaps the best way to close the story. However, encouraged with enormous success of series, producers decided to continue the story anyway and judging by the first episode of the second season, it just continues with more torture, suffering and humiliation, which at this point gets really gruesome. And I found myself looking elsewhere just to avoid what's going on the screen - because this is turning now into skilfully created torture show with women being victimised left and right, I feel genuinely worried about this kind of entertainment and what kind of audience it attracts. So I think that one season was just enough for me and I don't want to participate anymore in something so unsettling and disturbing. If curiosity don't pull me back, of course.

OK never mind, I couldn't resist so I watched the second season. And it was darn good, though occasionally I had a feeling they are stretching it in order to get more episodes but the idea basically stays faithful to novel - its not really necessary though, since I believe it originally ended just as it should have - this time we follow pregnant June as she tries to escape and how there are always people willing to help, as well as reaction from free territory in Canada where there is huge public outcry against what goes on in ""Gilead". What was the most interesting was how the focus changed, previously I always thought Serena was evil but now I realised she was victim as anybody else, her husband is actually real monster. There are some new characters and plots so they might as well continue with third season.


"At Last" by Etta James (1960)

The real, unsung hero behind this album is Leonard Chess who had a sense and patience to approach this loose cannon and give her chance to shine like a jewel in a real, professional surroundings and not forcing her to repeat same novelties she was doing until than (he also bought a house for her but wisely kept it under his name, knowing about her wild lifestyle - week after his death, the house was officially hers). His fatherly concern kept singer trough 1960s when she was going from one trouble to another and would probably end up in obscurity long ago had it not been for "Chess Records"  - these days you read a lot about how record companies used to explore artists back in the 1960s but in this case it was not true.

Along with "Two Steps From The Blues" by Bobby Bland, "At Last" is one of the most important early soul albums of the early 1960s. Its the place where several ingredients from previous decade brew together in a combination that will later be recognised as next new thing - jazz standards, doo wop, blues and early r&b are all mixed together and on top of it you have powerhouse Etta James who was already a veteran of chitlin circuit at the grand old age of twenty two. Encouraged by Chess brothers, she is kittenish on sentimental ballads or rip-roaring on uptempo numbers where her fierceness evoke artists like Big Maybelle and Big Mama Thornton from previous decade (and Ruth Brown, come to think of it) - it is unusual voice for a woman at the time when girl singers were supposed to be sweet and romantic. Aretha was still practically unknown and Tina was shoehorned into gutbucket r&b with no chance to touch such classy numbers as "At Last" or "Stormy Weather". James is excellent all the way trough this eclectic selection and surprisingly effective on everything producers threw at her, be it gospel ballad "All I Could Do Was Cry" or assertive blues "I Just Want to Make Love to You" that would reach top of the charts again in 1996. Clearly one of the best voices around, James would follow very much the same path trough 1960s but would later struggle without Leonard Chess in the next decade, until another big shot Jerry Wexler resurrected her to greatness with "Deep in the Night"


"The Grass is Blue" by Dolly Parton (1999)

Where that stalwart, unsinkable frou-frou apparition craftily pulls another trick from her sequined sleeve and comes up with such joyous, old-time fiddling bluegrass album that the rest of Nashville hung their heads in shame for neglecting her. The market was always focused on youngsters and even people who were architects of country music found themselves pushed in the background, luckily Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn found their admirers amongst young producers willing to take risks, but for me its Parton who takes the cake as the most delightful of them all.

Dolly Parton had recorded occasional bluegrass number here and there trough her long and adventurous career but this is first time she actually created decidedly bluegrass collection from start to finish - it works beautifully despite the fact it had absolutely nothing in common with than current trends and perhaps this is the answer why it became so successful. For all her glitz, tits and wigs, Parton is first and foremost great singer-songwriter and once you recover from initial shock of her stage appearance, the music she sings is often enchanting if you give her a chance. Curiously, it seems that her particular talent shines best when she is not shoehorned into modern production but let loose on traditional material as on 1987. "Trio" with Ronstadt and Harris - it took some time, but when she returned to her Appalachian roots the results are stunning. Parton is such brilliant singer that she actually manages not to be eclipsed by all these virtuoso musicians who play around her like possessed, with great enthusiasm and authority. There are lots of surprises, starting from Billy Joel opening number and old "Silver Dagger" lifted from early Joan Baez album, but personally I always found "Cash On The Barrelhead" by The Louvin Brothers my favourite. It was hugely successful and deservedly so (it melted hearts of traditionally reserved music critics in Europe) and first in trilogy of her bluegrass albums - probably the best of them. If you like this, you might check out "The One Rose" and "Sings Bluegrass" albums by lovely Rose Maddox who is undeservedly neglected artist from another era and deserves proper re-evaluation.


"Jubavi, Jubavi" by Oliver Dragojević (1981)

Just heard sad news that Oliver Dragojević passed away into great beyond, so in honour to his legacy I decided to revisit one of the old, classic albums created when he was at the peak of his power and the way we will always remember him. Dragojević had good fortune that he lasted long enough for his discography to be re-evaluated again by young generations who admired his artistic integrity and trough loving collaborations new artists showed great affection for this veteran singer.

"Jubavi, Jubavi" is classic album recorded at the time when Dragojević was invincible winner of all pop festival stages whenever he went and by 1981. he already patented gentle, seductive crooning that noticeably became smoother since his early days when he sounded grittier. If at the beginning he was still influenced by Ray Charles, later he decidedly changed the approach, thanks to composer Zdenko Runjić who tailored for him what must be the great Croatian songbook - the long list of music they made together trough the years is genuinely brilliant and theirs was match made in heaven. For all the artists that Runjić worked with, it seems that he found a perfect connection with Dragojević who shared his irreverent perspective and could be surprisingly funny, quirky and self-deprecating despite his star status. This album has perfect combination of what made them great - there are some poignant, aching ballads ("Piva Klapa Ispo' Volta") mixed with zany, good-time music (timeless "Nadalina") and singer effortlessly shows that he was equally comfortable as romantic crooner as much as wicked, life-loving comedian. It must be noted that Dragojević was one of those rare exceptions, a superstar whose appeal was built not on his looks (he was always adorable, but very ordinary looking man who apparently couldn't care less for such things as image) but on his talent and trough the sheer power of that talent he has built such a strong rapport with audience that his passing leaves irreplaceable gap in our music. There is not a living person in Croatia who don't have at least one favourite song by this singer so he really touched many lives, which is testament to his artistry.

"Risen" by Kevin Reynolds (2016)

What on earth possessed me into thinking I might like this movie - perhaps suggested hint that this might be different angle of poking and probing into ancient tale - always sucker for literature that reinterpret this old story from historical perspective, I thought Hollywood might find new way of dealing with spiritual inheritance left two thousand years ago but it was not meant to be.

Initially, "Risen" has a good premise - hard-boiled Joseph Fiennes is a tough Roman soldier given task to deal with another crucifixion and as the body of you-know-who later disappears, it makes his boss Pontius Pilate nervous, boy you get this mess sorted out before it creates even more problems. Tom Felton (Draco from Harry Potter) tags along as ambitious young Roman who sweats trough hunts for Yeshua's followers but he also notices that Fiennes has his doubts about the whole case. Director Kevin Reynolds has solid body of work behind him and he dresses everything in interesting, action-packed cellophane that works just fine as long as soldiers fight and burst through the doors searching for their suspects - when the movie is supposed to get into spiritual, it falters because it insist to show how Roman soldier could metamorphose from hunter into hunted. Perhaps I got this all wrong, but for me its not about physical resurrection as much about seeds of idea that Yeshua left behind him. Visually attractive and well acted, movie is still too cautious to make waves and sticks to the canon perhaps too close for its own good - preaching to the choir, it simplifies the idea that might work much better if Reynolds was willing to take more risks.