Ion Martea: commissioning editor, film

Ion Martea is Culture Wars’ commissioning editor for film. He is an award-winning poet, novelist and critic, whose work has been published in Moldova, Romania, USA, Japan and the UK.

Ion made his literary debut at the age of thirteen. Since then, he has published three books of poetry Only And… (Lyceum, 1998), Flight of a Babe (Ruxanda, 1999), Anthem to a Sinless Man (Pontos, 2000) and the novel Primordial Sin (Pontos, 2002) in Moldova. He has edited three poetry anthologies and has translated English, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish and Polish poetry into Romanian, and Romanian poetry in English. Ion is working on his first novel in English.

As director, writer and performer he appeared in several plays, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his On Productions theatre company. He has worked in radio broadcasting and television, and is currently a Business Analyst at TSL Education.

He is an LSE graduate in Philosophy and Economics, with an interest in Philosophy of Film, specifically on the issues of representation of reality and identity construction. His Essential Films Series on Culture Wars aims at constructing a cinematic canon that is driven by conceptual analysis of the art form versus the more established entertainment criticism widely applicable to individual films.

January 2013

Welcome into the world of film

Judging from his body language, Dickson is clearly performing for the camera, aware of the effect this might have over the spectator. It is just then to assume that the greeting into the world of motion pictures was fully intended by the filmmaker.

October 2009

Romanian portmanteau

All five episodes show these are not just experimental directors who deny the validity of the cinema that came before them. For them the use of handheld cameras and non-professional actors is not an end in itself. What they care for is to make a film that works artistically, but for once, a film that can work commercially too.

Film

Escaping the recession

In this Dahl adaptation we find all of the director’s trademarks as well as his unique vision that defines him as an artist, yet both of these are enhanced by a serene clarity that makes that vision truly accessible to both critics and the larger public alike.

January 2009

In hopeless emptiness

The problem is that the Wheelers are an empty shell, remnants of a meaningful past of which they have no recollection. Their fight then is useless from the very outset, for it lacks any foundation.

Boy + Girl

Muntean’s second film has featured in a few festivals throughout the last few years, but without much luck of finding distribution. His third found its way much quicker to the cinema screens. The question to ask is why a film about an ordinary couple having an ordinary holiday is deemed more appealing for foreign audiences than one about the social consequences of the 1989 revolution?

Choose life

Danny Boyle’s incarnation of the Mumbai slums is the main startling achievement of the film. Here we are not just spectators, for the director forces us to penetrate the depths of a community that is vibrant, full of colours and madness.

Film

Hitchcock’s paths

The film offers us a Hitchcock that we saw only once. The mood of the film, its visual style, play an expressionist game that is nothing but an ode to the great German silent cinema of the likes of Murnau, Lang or Pabst. We see a director who is learning but also inventing.

October 2008

A close-up on poverty

What we see is too serene, too un-dramatic at first glance, leading us to ignore the need to understand. The ordinary image, blank and shapeless, haunts us, for we are forced to see desperation deep inside us, rather than the idea of poverty we have in our collective imagination.

The belief in God: a French analysis

The existence of a supreme power is paradoxically a non-subject, as humanity is purely interested in the potential a belief in that power might have for an understanding of oneself. Arguably, it is this conundrum that elicits the sheer failure to comprehend, which the spectator experiences at the end of these films.

Republican presidential failures

Nixon jeopardised the entire system through a crime he refused to admit, and got away with a pardon for all his actions by the president who replaced him. For Frost this was entertainment, as it gave him a chance to play a cat and mouse game in television close-up.

April 2008

Too short to play Hamlet

Caranfil is nostalgic and frivolous simultaneously. He is glad as a director that the pioneers fought for the independence of cinema as an art-form. More than that, in The Rest Is Silence we find a director who is truly comfortable with making cinema for the sake of it, treating the art as an end in itself.

March 2008

On the Romanian New Wave

Mungiu’s point of view is similar to ours, stuck in a corner of a room, or at the front of a dinner table, unable to move, unable to do a close-up or emphasise certain elements that might give us more clues about a character’s emotions, a character’s interpretation of morality. This way of film-making does indeed feel fresh, liberating.

Let live or sacrifice?

Both Sorowitsch and Burger are heroes in their own way, despite the fact that one is justified by social Darwinism and the other by political idealism. The director is almost trying to say that in the extreme horror created by the Nazi regime, the survival of a nation depended equally on physique and on reason.

October 2007

On Chesil Beach

The master of ‘first chapters’ trips himself up at his own smart literary game. For once, he has managed to extend a first chapter into an entire novel, without much loss of momentum. Yet, there is something quite superficial in the way this pace is maintained.

Fiction

Birds with a Broken Wing

Thorpe’s explains our failure to take flight through the lives of the ordinary man. Disasters are invoked with the mention of Hitler or Chamberlain, yet these are not the individuals who experience the true course of life.

FictionPoetry
September 2007

Happiness and regret

Irrespective of how subtle Redgrave is in her delivery, she is buried in the density of colour and mood driven not by her acting, but by the music. The dogma that less is more is so closely adhered to in the performances, it is ironic that Koltai ignored it when judging the effect of other elements.

Film
August 2007

A travelogue through a society’s psychology

Mircea Andreescu’s final monologue, detailing Pişcoci’s story on the morning of 22 December 1989, is menacing in its power to affect us. We, just like him, value the love of our partner more than of our country. Being a hero in the eyes of one’s beloved is arguably the best gift one can receive.

Film

The pure celebration of music

What Gatlif is exploring is what makes the gypsy life so appealing on a cultural level, yet so marginalised on a social one. By using actors of different backgrounds, he immediately erases any possible caricature, thus allowing the discourse to flow unhindered by preconceived attitudes.

Hollywood’s ARK

American studios’ productions always have included an element of moral education, promoting traditional values. Evan Almighty is in this tradition, and its weaknesses are not so the result of secularisation, as the increasing isolationism of American politics.

June 2007

Humanist cinema

Naruse’s whole body of work, like those of many of his 1960s European fellow directors, finds in the life of woman a undying source of inspiration. The love the director has for his heroine is heartbreaking in its purity, making her appear like a goddess demanding respect simply by being.

The artist and his vision

This self-proclaimed ‘phantasmagoria’ of Ruiz’s cinema does not work as a literary narrative, but rather as an intrinsically visual one. Malkovich, as Klimt, is always in focus. The cinematography almost always sets him in the best light, continuously eclipsing his background or foreground.

November 2006

Death and the author

Despite the abundance of death in film history, the intellectualisation of the concept of death and its cathartic power necessary to the creation of art is still essentially virgin territory for the medium. The London Film Festival showed that there are now serious attempts to make up for this.

Film
September 2006

Amadeus

The period setting of the venue itself, with ruined walls and notices warning the audience about the poor functionality of the building, works wonderfully with the stage art direction - all creating a haunting world, rotting with mediocrity, crying for greatness.

TheatreMusic
February 2006

Titus Andronicus

Despite the gore, there is meaning hidden in this ancient tale. The man is first viewed as a hero, yet a hero capable of cruelty, a basic characteristic of human kind. From parent to child, customs and ambition lead man with no other choice but dwell in a state of malice.

Theatre
February 2004

Sixty Lights - (Man Booker Prize 2004, Longlist)

The characters slowly gain shape, and ultimately existence, through a description of ordinary events and unremarkable episodes, all painted two-dimensionally, to fit the boundaries of the photographs they inhabit.

Fiction

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