Posts filed under ‘Cinema’

Everyone wants to be found!

Lost In Translation – Bob Harris sings More Than This

A propos..

This week, a propos one discussion about love with one of my best friends, I just remembered and went back to review “Lost in Translation”, Sofia Coppola´s only second but striking film.

Released in 2003, “Lost in Translation” won four Academy Awards and ranks among my list of “changed-mi-world” films. It had a decisive influence on my fascination for Tokyo and is one of the reasons why I decided start learning Japanese.

Against a post-modern Tokyo the film tells the story of two people who accidentally meet and spend some time together. Away from home, their common feeling of displacement is not only agravated by the cityscape itself but also by the lack of direction in their life. More than a case of empathy, a real sense of intimacy and mutual trust strikes them both from minute one. And though they never speak openly about it they both know what´s at stake – as we all do when we experience that in real life! (There´s a name for that which most people fear!)

I recalled the film for my friend has a view on love charged with idealism and fatalism at the same time. She is stubbornly “saving herself” for something meaningfull which, she believes, will take place inevitably without her having to move a finger. While pointing to her the blessing of women having finnaly moved on beyond the Cinderella role, and that anyway there are no Princes to be found these days, the amazing story of the film was playing in the back of my mind.

One of the most increadible moments is the final scene when Bob Harris (played by Bill Murray in what has been seen as THE performance of his carreer) while on his way to the airport spots Charlotte (played by Scarlett Johansson) among a frenetic crowd and jumps out the taxi to reach her.
He embraces her, whispers something on her hear and gives her a tender kiss before leaving again. What short-minded critics have considered to be a cheat on the audience for we are left with the frustration of not knowing if they relationship will continue or not, many think (me included) that that was one of the most magic, painfull and beautifull moments of the film. And exactly what has prevented us to forgetfully – as happens with so many other films – overcome it.

Unfortunately such grandious delight has now been ruined! Bill Murray´s whisper has been decoded by someone and uploaded on You Tube.
But, then again, I feel both disappointed about knowing it and relieved at the same time! It is indeed easier to bare! The point being that it is not about a happy end but about making us recognize how unbelievably easy and a true tragedy it is to completely miss that: “More than this/ You know there´s nothing”…

July 19, 2008 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

Broken People

Control, A Film By Anton Corbijn, 2007
Photo: Google
Joy Division – Love will tear us apart

Control by Anton Corbijn. Ian Curtis. Joy Division.
I feel “irretrievably” broken after seeing the excellent Anton Corbijn´s film on Ian Curtis. I was one year old when Ian committed suicide. What a lost… And yet aren´t we also to blame for? The pressure and expectations we put on others everyday, putting them on a pedestal… Ian was diagnosed epilepsy, according to his daughter he was mentally instable and showed violent humor swings. For the rest of us, who will always admire his music he will keep on disturbing our peace of mind…
He was only 23 years old when he died but he gave us so much…. and so does the film. Thank you Anton! I cannot even talk about it…

Anton Corbijn talking about Joy Division´s influence on his own life, his love for technique and the adventure of becoming a filmmaker >>>>>>

Declarations on occasion of the Premiere at the Toronto Film Festival 2007 >>>>>>

July 14, 2008 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

This is exactly how I feel today…

(Rachel Weisz in My Blueberry Nights
by Wong Kar Wai

“Wieder ein ewiger Tag des Wartens”.
(“Der Erwartung” Monodrama by Arnold Schönberg,
Libretto by Marie Pappenheim)

July 7, 2008 at 11:16 am 1 comment

WildTurner on You Tube

Radiohead – All I Need

Since the 25th of October 2007 You Tube´s subscriber WildTurner has uploaded nine videos in which historical film footage, ranging from experimental film to the great Italian director Antonioni, is put together with music varying from Radiohead to Joy Division.

Meanwhile exploring entries on Marcel Duchamp on You Tube I came across one of those videos, in which an excerpt of Hans Richter´s “Dreams that Money Can Buy” featuring Marcel Duchamp´s “Anemic Cinema” is put together with Radiohead´s “You´re All I Need”, which happens to be my favorite song on their last album. Lucky coincidence for this is a great match!
The song is painful, obsessive and yet inspiring with Tom York´s amazing lyrics: “I am all the days you choose to ignore”! Duchamp´s “Anemic Cinema” as an inquiry into human perception and the cinematic gaze gains a new reading here.
The viewer´s gaze under the spell bounding and hypnotic effects of cinema is thus compared to an impotent powerless lover living off an illusion. Until the advent of the internet and interactive cinema, our relation with cinema has been a passive and non-corresponded one indeed, just like the love described in the song.

I wonder what drove Wild Turner to put Duchamp´s “Anemic Cinema” and Radiohead´s song “You´re All I Need” together?
“Jigsaw Falling Into Place” another song by Radiohead together with Antonioni footage also results tremendously brilliant. Here >>

And most amazing is to think that this could only have happened in the internet of course, where the logic of the medium favoring freedom to experiment and assembly – two of Duchamp´s most strongest ideas and legacy for the future – overthrows limiting author rights´ bureaucracy. Indeed a match made in heaven!

On the topics of the change of the artist´s role after Duchamp and quotation/ assembly /sampling issues today, is really worth taking a look into Dj Spooky´s interview on Duchamp at The Dallas Museum of Art.

June 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

The Misfits – John Houston (1961)

A group of people come accidentally together, as so often happens in life. Some are conscious of their misadjustment, others are just lost without even noticing it. Marilyn Monroe plays the role of a disillusioned divorcée, looking ahead for an uncertain future and having one single condition in mind – that companionship and love may finally be a part of her life.
Doubting what her role in life is, she becomes the magnet bringing together three problematic men carrying their own traumas and for whom “the rules of the game have been changed”; a cowboy, the last of a kind whose way of surviving faces endangerment, a rodeo boy keen on hurting himself and battling with the troubles which result from his relationship with his own mother and, a lonely man carrying the guilt of the loss of his loved one. Marilyn is a free spirit on her turn, stuck between child and womanhood as she hesitates to have children herself, for she knows how fleeting the rules of love are.
They are the misfits, fragments of people, pieces of a puzzle that doesn´t fit together. Without having a clue about what to do next, Marilyn discovers her part as real life unfolds. Of all, she has the clearer view, she doesn´t reflect on what to do but simply does it. She finds her role: she is needed and she belongs somewhere because she is needed. She is the entertainer, the problem solver, acting as a mother for the three men – what an irony for someone who fears having kids and what a relief for someone who started out just as lost as the others! She becomes the glue holding all the wrecks surrounding her. Though frighten and insecure at times, she is the laughter and light where the men turn to, expecting approval, incentive, love and advice. She is not a revolutionary figure, just the contrary, she fulfills one of the classical roles of what is expected of a woman.
“The Misfits”, with a screenplay by Arthur Miller and featuring Montgomery Cliff, Clark Gabble and Marilyn Monroe among others, is marked by a series of strange coincidences. It was Clark´s and Monroe´s last appearance on screen, the tumbling down of Miller and Monroe´s marriage took place meanwhile. All the off screen problems somehow show in Marilyn´s rather unbalanced performance, at times engaging and at other times totally weak. It seems she was very moody during the shootings, it was difficult to conciliate her ego with Clark´s own ego, and it is said that either she showed up drunk or not at all on set.

What is Monroe, I often wondered. My fascination started with a photography exhibition I saw in New York. I bought a little postcard that has been following me through the different cities I´ve lived in so far. She is the laughter and the tragedy one is attracted to, she describes something of the male gaze that I would finally like to understand.
On my postcard she is young and joyful, she is leaning forward as if challenging you directly in the eye – fortunately in this two-dimensional image she cannot speak for her dissimulated voice always gets on my nerves. Marilyn´s voice, unlike what a voice usually does, doesn´t bring us closer to her, on the contrary! It reminds me of make up powder and grandma´s perfume, its artifice orchestrated to the last detail, in opposition to a sincere voice, which for me would be the grand voice of Callas, in whose flesh we can already sense the forthcoming tragedy both on life and stage; to be admired and feared from distance but still feel like a total failure in what the smallest things of life, which other people seem to manage so easily, concerns.
Monroe cannot be simply explained as a puppet. Perhaps the known tragic events and facts of her personal life are the ones disturbing her image, continuously taking our sleep away as we do not know what to make out of her.
Anyway, Capote was a great admirer of Monroe and made Hepburn´s life miserable during the shooting of Breakfast at Tiffany´s, for he wrote the part having Monroe in mind – the one and only luxury doll in his mind.
In The Dogs Barking, Capote describes Monroe the same way as Holy, as a slob, divine, like a banana split or a cherry jubilee. He says: „ But true to type as aspects of the Monroe are, she is not genuinely of the genre, she is too untough to be; moreover, she is capable of sensitive concentration always the secret of making any talent work, which her does: the character she performs, a waif-figure of saucy pathos, is sound and of convincing charm: very understandably so, since there is a small difference between her screen image and the impression she privately conveys – the appeal of both personalities stems from the same circumstance: that she is an orphan, in spirit and actually; she is stained, and illuminated by, the stigmata of orphan-thinking: while trusting no one, not very much, she labours like a fieldhand to please everybody, she wants to make of each of us an affectionate protector, and consequently we, her audience, her acquaintances, are flattered, pitying, aroused“.

Marilyn is a fake blond and on this point I´ve got to hand it in to K.G., for he is right. Success comes from knowing how to manipulate one´s medium the best possible way!

April 21, 2008 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

MEDEA from Pasolini

Medea, Pasolini, Google images

I´ve just recently saw Pasolini´s film (1969) based on Euripides´ Medea (431 BC), in which Maria Callas remarkably performs the leading role.

Pasolini takes some liberties regarding Euripides´plot – which was itself based on an already popular myth at the time -, showing for instance two different versions within the film for the death of the corynthian princess who is about to become Jason´s wife.

Specially interesting, is the tribal african music the director uses, introducing a dionysiac effect in relation to certain actions on the verge of madness and loss of control, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. In a very poetical and at the same time realistic way, Pasolini introduces documentary images within the classical narrative, such as children eating water melons or old aged faces.

S. made me notice that Medea is not merely the story of a woman who incomprehensively kills her children to take reveange on her husband for leaving her and the family to marry another woman. Many complex aspects come together and the story could be said to be about many different things.

I was specially interested in my friend´s point that Medea is a woman who apparently has no choice but to accept the given conditions and collaborate. She seems domed to accept her role as a disillusioned and abandoned wife, condemned to live in exile in a foreign land and culture, to which she is nothing but a barbarian. And there she stands, without any choice, powerless, after having cut with her former life as a priestess, abandoned her father´s house, her land, killed her brother in the most horrific way – and all for the sake of escaping with Jason and love him. And not only has he deserted her but she cannot go back, nor stay, nor undo her life´s choices. She finds herself at the loneliest of places, a non-place in fact.

And so, Medea finds the most unbelievable solution to break out of the desolate situation she has been condemn to – to kill her own children thus irreparably hurt their father and furthermore deprive him of his children´s dead bodies. She completely turns the game around, from a helpless victim to an aggressor in possession of total control. It could be said she is the selfishest of creatures but it could also be said that she is too human and fighting for survival on its most raw dimension…

March 19, 2008 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

OPENING NIGHT, a film by John Casavettes and TARNATION, a documentary by Jonathan Caouette

Opening NightTarnation
(Google Bilder)

When I was seventeen I could do anything.
It was so easy… My emotions were so close to the surface.
I am finding harder and harder to stay in touch…

(Gena Rowlands in Opening Night by John Casavetes)

Your greatest creation
is the life you lead

(Tarnation, a film by Jonathan Caouette)

Both Casavettes film and Caouette´s documentary deal with performance as a way to handle one´s own feelings and life experience. Jonathan Caouette says that film saved his life, since it was the way he found to reorganize his toughts and experiences and make some sense out of his childhood and teenage years. He started to document his own life at the age of 11. Film has helped him to deal with traumatic events, such as witnessing his mother being raped as a yound boy. His complete self-exposure through the medium film is for him something of a necessity, a survival strategy. He plays with facts from his biography, addressing his mother´s mental clinic history and his own sexuality at the same time.

This exposure finds a parallel in Myrtle´s process to understand and deal with her character in John Casavettes´ film. Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) is a talented middle aged stage actress, playing Virginia, a middle aged woman. As an actor surrounded by other actors, the difference between real emotion and performance becomes blurred for Myrtle. She starts to dillusion under the pressure of playing a role on stage that forces her to come in terms with her own age. She is also off balance due to the death of a fan that had come to see her on opening night and ends up run over by a car in front of the theater. Myrtle builds a phantasy around this second seventeen-year-old woman, who becomes her double throughout the entire film.

Myrtle´s struggle is about finding a creative way to play her character Virginia, dettaching herself from the age constraint. And so she subjects herself to a process of research which is also a process of self agression and destruction, which goes from alcohol consumption, to allucinations and self-injure. Myrtle will finally be able to coupe with the role at the end of the film. On the opening night in New York, though she arrives at the theater falling-down drunk, she proceeds to work her way through the opening-night performance. Gradually sobering up, she gains control of herself by the final scene of the play and finds a creative solution, by forcing her stage partner to improvise and discuss openly former emotional problems between the two, in face of an audience.

Both film and documentary deal with theatricality, with playing a role, with the fluidity of identity as a performative process. This concern with performing, strongly relates to an on-going blurring between reality and fiction, and how we crescently make use of the medium film in order to both objectify our lives and dettach ourselves from it, and build fictions around ourselves and the world around us. And this is why, Jonathan Caouette says: „Your greatest creation is the life you lead“. And because reality and truth are no longer nowhere to be found Myrtle states that she finds it harder and harder to stay in touch with her own emotions, probably because they are trapped inside mediality – a topic that has been extensively explored, also by Lynch´s last film, „Inland Empire“.

February 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

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