2011年1月18日 星期二

The Secrets of Paris, Texas

Many of us agree that Paris, Texas is a beautiful film. We may simply feel that the beauty of the film is felt so strongly that there’s no need to ask why it is beautiful. But really though, it’s interesting to ask why is it so beautiful? You could say “it just IS”. Yet what strikes me is not the need to analyze or assess the film but to simply lay out facts of wonderment surrounding the making of the film and what that means, if only just to me perhaps.
If you watched the end credits of Paris, Texas, you’ll see that the total number crew members that traveled on the road with them doesn’t even exceed 20 people, which is quite unusual in the first place, not to mention for such a sprawling and peculiarly epic film. Indeed, the filmmakers went about making it bare bones style, with no excess equipment, certainly no video monitors, just a couple of people---you could say it’s not really professional at all. Although it’s a German/French co-production, it seems like Wim Wenders’ recounts featured in his commentary indicates that other than putting up the money the crew pretty much ventured on their own in America. The film was even shot in a linear style---needless to say they probably did not have any daily call sheets for each person nor sides for the actors, no; they wouldn’t need it. It sounds as if they were a bunch of students like the people from my film school with the way they were going about it. Specifically there wasn’t any overtly fancy equipment involved and definitely no video monitors or anything. In the making-of documentary there was an instance where they shot the Father and Son in the two shot driving in his small truck having a dialogue scene and what surprised me was when the director yelled “cut” the boom man emerged from the tiny place where the leg room was. They also didn’t use many permits to shoot in locations, and although the shooting style isn’t documentary-like they shot things on the fly mostly, such as the highway scene where the Father and Son are following the Mother from the bank. Why does that feel so familiar to me? Because that’s the way people that I know shoot films. For us “risk” meant shooting on a highway un-solicited, what it did not mean was having stunt men fly in the air or having any semblance to professional codes of ethics, just real people making something, like cowboys.
What’s astonishing is that these people made a Palm D’Or winning masterpiece and went about it using gorilla methods the way amateur filmmakers work. What’s worth noting was the kind of people in the crew, such as Claire Denis who was the first assistant director, who went on to become a great director, whose collaborator and cinematographer Agnes Godard worked as a camera assistant on Paris, Texas. They seem like people with the charm and wits of a film student who were simply chasing the idea of making a film of its own kind. The point is what’s surprising about their situation is how you can make a film of scope without having a massive army of people working under and around you.
In Wim Wenders commentary, he mentions how as they went along shooting the film while the script they had in hand remained unfinished at the part where the story was still set in Los Angeles. In fact they pretty much improvised the script as they went along from that point in the Los Angeles segment. That would seem incredible for several reasons. The first would be to have the peculiar freedom to do so (although according to Wenders it came not so much by choice but because Sam Shepard simply did not complete the script). It could be observed perhaps past the first viewing of the film that there is a tentative quality in the air surrounding the potential directions and development of the story, which is truly part of its charm. What’s really incredible perhaps was the will to keep on going. There’s an absolute difference that can be felt even by an audience regarding whether there was a screenwriter hired to concoct a story and a script written from a place of personal initiative. Of course that is not to say that scripts written from personal means are apt to be good, as there are also exceptions in which screenwriters for hire have the exceptional knack for making a script feel sincere and personal. But there is a difference usually, and all you’d have to do is look at Paris, Texas, whether imperfect or not is besides the point. The beauty of the film is in its idiosyncrasies, which is ultimately idiosyncratic in the best sense. Lest I repeat that the film was shot in linear style, which makes the shooting process seem like a grand adventure, and isn’t that what it feels like for the audience when you watch the film? The pervasive sensation of an adventure. The momentum of the “let’s see what will happen” approach comes through in the film in a way that feels like anticipation, which is nevertheless exciting.
In terms of the story of Paris, Texas, it feels contained always. What really builds up a funny sense of anticipation is how early in the movie nothing is set up right away. In stories set in contemporary times of the dramatic genre about families, this is what you might call rare. Often in the material a lot of exposition is deemed necessary in order to explain characters or just to be able to proceed, but Paris, Texas withholds the information as the story hook itself, it’s what you would call risky perhaps (risk of arbitrariness maybe), but it gives off the vibe of momentum. Other films might have too much expositon that boggles down the anticipation or certainly the predictability of the story. Yet the withholding of information is not merely a trick in this case, but it is imbued with emotional territory as it goes on, I mean you know it, we all feel it. It’s been said that success in any case is a combination of multiple things working in concert, it is never really one thing, and you might say that it is the same for movies, in which each aspect from actors to cinematography to script, when all of the elements are exceptional that is when it really becomes great and alive in a sense.
It’s touching to understand that a film was being made this way, because it is fundamentally so innocent. Innocent in the way that anything can be improvised and how each directorial choice is strictly personal. Take the ending for instance: not much is explained, we can’t decipher whether the son will now permanently belong to his mother. It is ambiguous, and purposely romantic. But you accept it not only because it is beautiful and romantic but also because it feels like a very distinct choice made from a very deep (or perhaps inevitable) preference. It may not be the perfect choice but it was a choice that had some passion behind it, which is lovely. Also worth noting is how the shots and locations are always aestheticized in a way that perhaps a more American director would not do. It is hard to describe the certain feeling that is conveyed in the way Wim Wenders chooses to shoot the Drive-In Bank set in Houston, Texas in the film, often the term used to describe a beautified cinematic atmosphere would be limited to “dreamlike” though that’s not really the case; but it would be very nice to see more films that contain that bewilderment of location. Clearly, these details elevate the film by creating a fascinating atmosphere. If movies were more like Paris, Texas, the world would probably feel very different. How? I do not know.

2010年12月17日 星期五

Funny People: Portrait of an Aging Man

The setting of Los Angeles becomes a kind of dramatic irony in when the subject of a film is about a fundamentally lonely character. The monotonous sunlight pervading room interiors and car windows day in and day out alas is registered in our minds as an intangible theme. We never know quite why the events in a film is happening in this particular city, unless of course the subject is show business, but more integral to our experience of such a film is the strange dimension it casts over the characters’ experiences. Los Angeles as a setting is almost like a Twilight Zone. Ever sunny, always bright, one can imagine that the writer for “Groundhog’s Day” must have wrote the screenplay while living in such a city where every day feels pretty much the same. Same goes for Paul Schrader who purportedly wrote “Taxi Driver” while living in L.A. It seems that loneliness has a distinctive quality when it is experienced in the zone of Los Angeles, certainly the contrast between sunshine and sadness is one thing, but the repetition of it just feels infinite.
Since audiences might be interested in what goes on in a very famous and successful comedian’s life, it is you might say quite right for “Funny People” to choose this character as the subject. Adam Sandler’s George Simmons is unhappy, perhaps because he can afford to be unhappy, but he’s unhappy nonetheless, and we believe it. We also believe that he’s an asshole, which shows partly because he drives a tall, imposing white sport-truck. It is part of Adam Sandler’s performance to mutter his lines reluctantly, which seems partly him and partly the character. Sickness is a tricky subject here, because an audience may or may not be able to relate to it personally, not to mention that it seems like your average dramatic manipulation device designed for many movies and books. It should be noted though that however accidental sickness is in a movie such happenings are also accidental in life as well, therefore it can be felt as a real threat. Seth Rogen on the other hand is an overall lovable character who is quite innocent and convincingly so. These comedians are all excited by one thing in life and that is good jokes, and as professionals they all covet good gigs and good money. As an audience we become slowly aware that these things that these characters want all feed into American culture. American comedy is very distinctively American and there’s no other way around it. Growing up in America seems to have so much to do with watching sitcoms and media personalities that being exposed to it is one of the very things that makes people feel like they belong in America, as if young people find their roots through living in media, so much so that they depend on it. Which is why George Simmons is so successful, because his job or what he does is so beloved here.
The cinematography by Spielberg’s collaborator Janusz Kaminski is quite artful at times, but simply beautiful. The last shot of the film where the camera pulls away on a crane into mid air is unbelievably perfect in its smoothness and assorted richness in detail of shoppers and groceries that is memorable because it is special. This film wants to carry some weight and seems to set out to do so. The sets and locations are all decoratively pleasingly and nothing less than comfortable looking, which is easier to like than an impoverished production design, however overtly opulent perhaps the point to be taken here is that the film wants to offer you beyond what’s normally offered. There’s nothing crass about the film except the material the comedians use for their jokes. The supporting character played by Eric Bana is very amusingly formed: take for example the moment when he comes home early and unexpectedly to his wife while George Simmons is a visiting house guest with whom she’s cheating on. He comes home while they’re waiting for a pizza delivery and his wife is curious why. The expositional dialogue he offers up isn’t arbituary but has a funny story behind it about how his Chinese client had a heart attack and that he started witnessing an ER episode starring Chinese people. This dialogue in itself is bubbly and interesting and a convincingly dramatic explanation for his early return. Although it’s a silly piece of back story there lies a charm in the handling of the exposition by the writer. Certainly the attention to the handling of such detail is enough for us to appreciate in a film.
The key moment in the film happens not in the many comedy clubs that’s visited, But when the ex-girlfriend and George Simmons (accompanied by Seth Rogen) watch a glorious taped performance of Cats by her daughter (who is in fact Judd Apatow’s real life daughter Maude Apatow in what has to be a performance taped for real life). Seth Rogen and the mother are touched and impressed by the little girl, but George Simmons wasn’t. He watched while texting about a film offer and when asked about how he felt of the performance, he dryly joked about how his acid taking buddy would find the video hysterically funny. The insensitivity in such a moment and the cynicism that it unintentionally exposed seems poignant in the make up of such a man, whose life passed him by in terms of any wife or children, and has arrived in his aging state. It all seems so inevitable in his trajectory, and tragically so. The jadedness is key, and there seems to be nothing more sincere in this story than the conveying of that.
In the beginning of the film, we agree as Seth Rogen does that his job at Otto’s Deli is quite a burden to his real aspirations, but at the end when he’s fired as George Simmon’s assistant and returns to Otto’s Deli, we get the sense that however insignificant his job is there’s a dignity to his self-reliance as opposed to the shifty nature of serving a celebrity. Although the film could very well have been about Seth Orgen’s rise to success through knowing George Simmons, or it could have ended with George Simmons winning back his ex girlfriend who was the love of his life, the film turns out to not be about either of this. It is never clear about what the objective is for any of its players, because the motives constantly fluctuate with the ebb and flows of life, and I guess we may not realize it but it does feel quite honest. We get the sense that there’s something there.

2010年6月13日 星期日

Notes on Ocean's Twelve

Above: The actors of Ocean's 12 wearing costumes designed by Milena Canonero, arguably the greatest living costume designer, certainly my fave.

Hi! Being unable to update this blog a lot I should say that it doesn't mean I don't care for it. When I do write about a movie or something, I do feel it's something that grabs me for an intangible but somewhat consuming reason....anyway the truth is writing blogs at least regularly is pretty time consuming I presume, so indeed I do not like to entertain the idea of being tied down by a blog. Though I do think I sound like a narcissistic bachelor. HAHAHA! What-ever!
To begin with, well, what to begin with when talking about Ocean's 12? I certainly think it's necessary to compare it to the first Ocean's 11 not least because it's directed by the same guy. First of all, the idea struck me that this was a movie about movie stars, though not in any particularly intellectual way. What strikes true and what it shares with the first film is the unexpected feeling we have for the persons (characters) in the film at some point fairly late in the movie. To set it up it seems true from the very start of the film that the guys making it have nothing to work with for the sequel, meaning they have no creative or story motivation other than a simple reboot and continuim for the first, how unfair then that the burden is put on Soderbergh to provide a concrete vision for the whole piece, after all it is, especially with a name director such as Soderbergh that the reputation of the film rides under his name most of all, not really anyone else's. It's in his hands apparently, HOWEVER, though so much in the sense that he truly does seem to have creative control over it, it is not HIS film in a sense because it is not himself alone that wants to make this, it is also to meet certain requirements from a hiring standpoint. But alas, because it IS his decision to make it, it is his responsibility if it is good or bad, stands or falls, and as a viewer the entire attitude adjustment of its director seems to seep right through in a way that's quite hard to ignore.
The director seems to be asking himself at least in the start of the film, however frivolously "Am I making bullshit?" or "If I don't care enough, will I be able to make the film work?", there seems to be a reluctancy on Soderbergh's part towards the material that can be felt in the beginnings of the film as the scnes shift abruptly and the rhythym seems careless. I suppose it applies to any somewhat artistically inclined director how necessary it is to justify to yourself what's you're doing, to be able to find solace and have an interest in what you're making(becuase who else will be if you yourself isn't even attracted to it?). Which is funny because it reminds me of the line in Ocean's 11 when George Clooney says at the end to his wife/ex-wife "You thought I didn't know what I was doing, but see? I do know what I'm doing". HAHAHA! Same idea applies to Soderbergh. It comes off to me in the first half of the film and produces such thoughts as "this is silly at best, at worst ludicrous". Not that I thought Soderbergh didn't know what he was doing, but it reminded me of certain assignments in film school filmmaking where a student is trying hard to be a good sport and at least have fun in the creation but at the same time isn't sure if he truly cares about it. It is remarkable though the responsiility, burden and the danger of the situation in which Soderbergh puts himself in. Actually one does not sense that Soderbergh has ever really given up on the movie---though the beginning felt shaky, it seemed the director was randomly building upon ideas bit by bit that may or may not sustain the film. The retro romantic montage between Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta Jones was one of the thinner ideas, but that may only be because the 2 actors obviously lack chemistry (it is all too apparent that Catherine is Michael Douglas's gal. The chemistry between Julia and George is much nicer actually, and they're able to portray a loving couple dynamic with a strong close friendship amidst the sexual attraction). Pushing for the European locale at least is promising in the way its able to take advantage of its budget in the sense of affording the costly travel of a Hollywood crew to an authentic and nonetheless pleasing far away location(which may or may not be common practice, proabably less so for a comedic film produced these days). But the odds still seemed be very well against him, or at least, it played that way in the first half of the film, or so we may think.
It is worth noting that looking at Soderbergh's oeuvre it might be that there always seems to be a distinct insecuirty factor for him as a director, reasons for which is emblematic in the rapid mood swings in his choice of material throughout his career, though it may very well be that his insecurity is a chronic condition inherent in the struggle to survive as a competitive working director; like a tough tennis player. It seems true that he also desires to work on his own terms(who doesn't?). In his case I suppose, his growth in craft as a filmmaker is by any standards brilliantly accomplished and more profilic than most. His talent as an auteur is concientious but unconventional, at the same time I might add that what stands out in his pattern as a director that's different from others perhaps seems to be the infinite supply of hard work in hopes of securing the right to at least have some say or some part of himself apparent in his own work no matter how unlikely the project. That being said, sometimes he wins the battle against his own insecurity, sometimes he doesn't. No one can win all the time. Transecending the possible limitations in an American film in general whether in Hollywood or not seems rare perhaps because it is so hard, but indeed he is one of those talents who is able to step up to the challenge.
Now back to Ocean's 12....where was I? Oh right. Well, there's quite a bit of movie star actors doing a lot of random, improvised, humorous banter, pure silliness, and you're thinking "this is goofy at best, ridiculous at worst", and you laugh a bit though you don't trust at all where this is going and you may or may not stop caring. The problem is that the plot doesn't seem that intrigueing anyway(or so it seems) but you reluctantly stick with it mostly because you're curious where this will all end up, and so it is somewhere at this point where it raises your interest. The point came where the most ridiculous idea of the movie came up, which is when Julia Roberts' character Tess is actually masquerading as real life "Julia Roberts" in order to steal this golden egg at a musuem in Europe while the other key players are arrested and incapacitated, the idea of which can be felt as very funny and very strange at the same time. At the museum of course Tess runs into the real life Bruce Willis, and it's fun to observe how these actors playing a character pretending to be a movie star (Julia Roberts) or playing themselves(Bruce Willis)when they refer to (or pretend to talk about) their life as the movie stars it is very comforting at least that these actors KNOW in reality the actual world they refer to---in the scene when Bruce Willis is asking about Julia Robert's real life assistant to the fake Julia Roberts, at least he is drawing upon conditions which he is close to (sort of an inversion of what movie stars practice in films they end up in). Anyway that is not what turned the table around for me as the viewer, but it did feel a little exciting in a random unkempt way---around that point in the movie the interest jumped and it could be felt simultaneously in the cinematography and energy of the movie. It was extremely pleasurable to watch how crowded outside the musuem was when the fake Julia Roberts showed up at the front, and even the handheld camera work which seemed almost sloppy before came to life with some grace or feeling in some shots such as when Danny Ocean walks down a corridor or stairs after being arrested and the tensions rise suddenly. Also the European locale felt sexier as things got more chaotic and quite complicated as the thieves loss control and was no longer able to act suave. It was when after the characters as thieves were arrested and then arrested again there was a montage with seperate far away zoom ins to each of the Oceans 11 individuals as they're walking with their hands cuffed, that I felt a stirring affection for these characters, the sympathy of which comes from the real sense of jeopardy that these carefree movie criminals faced up against, and whether the unexpected affection came from my sincere regard for them as the actors that they are or the human relationship/friendship dynamic of the Oceans 11 group that got to me is not clear, in any case the sentiment was ever so apparent. And towards the end of the movie when the plot offered a twist when you didn't even expect a twist because the film was disguised under the mask of being a hack film I realized that Soderbergh did know what he was doing after all, and that he too was only pretending to be a hack in a weird way in order to surprise us with the twist at the end, so that it would arrive as unexpected. But what's surprising is how we realize that the trajectory of these movie criminal lives did matter in the movie, and that we DO want them to win, even though we thought we didn't care if they won because we assumed that they were going to win anyway. And we started caring not because we thought they might not win at the end, but that for one thing we didn't expect to care if they won and for another thing how sad it is for us when they didn't win for a moment in time. The truth is, we didn't know what to expect. HAHAHA! The movie seemed rather lost and excessive for an indefinite amount of time, but this fact arguably seemed to work toward it's advantage becuase it can be explained to have purposely been there to mislead us in thinking less of the movie---the example would be how early on it showed the random banter of the characters at a European train station, at which point we didn't really get a clear sense of what exactly is going on in the context of the plot other than maybe the movie was stalling for time, which proved false later on at the end through telling black and white flashback of the random banter scene there was actually a hidden scheme that the audience was not aware of going on at that point in the film. By that token it goes to show that it is not the story that matters but the way it is told, respectively. If you understand what I mean or have seen the movie it's rather entertaining. Maybe an outlandish kind of entertainment, but the idea of which we've probably never quite seen anything like before, which is maybe why it's so fascinating, and you can enjoy how lovable it is when you don't have to take it seriously or analyze the reasons behind it. In fact, it's arguable that genre movies never need to justify themselves, and maybe we love that about them.
On a poignant note, i realize through the employment and indulgence of the movie star aspect in the film; but more interestingly how dependent the bizarre and blatantly shallow plot leaned on the goodness of the charisma but also acting skills of the actors to carry it through---when at the end of the movie everyone gathers around celebrating and I looked at Catherine Zeta Jones laughing and I suddenly felt very touched, I was happy for these characters in the movie but also as actors when I look at someone as extraodinary as Carl Reiner, because the movie celebrates their charm, and that was when I thought about how despite the fact that movie stars are overly paid and all the problematic issues one may have with the media in general, the other side of it which is a a very special thing, which is how the smile of a movie star lights up people's hearts and uplifts their moods, we love their charm and that lightens up the world a bit for us, and that's really very touching.

2010年4月20日 星期二

Exclusive interview with Robert Schwartzman from the band Rooney!!

My personal idol Robert answered some questions I had about the new Rooney album "Eureka due to be released in June, here they are!!!

Dear Robert,

1. I remember last year in one of the rooney update videos on youtube where u guys discuss your upcoming album there was a great catchy song playing in the background. Will this awesome song be featured in the upcoming album?? Hope so!

Hey Nini, That song is called Someone to Love and I really like that song. However, it will not be on the album. But it most likely be on the Solobob album!

2. 2. How do you think the band has aged? Has the relationships songs changed in nature compared to the past?

I think we've aged nicely. We've been playing together since high school and we really love what we do. We all want to continue to build our fan base and make more albums more frequently. We've changed a lot as people over the years and we're doing our best to keep our fans musical interests in mind and to make ourselves happy. Bringing different styles into the mix. After all our ups and downs over the years, we still get along very well and have a mutual respect for each other. We're all happy to be self-releasing the album and to have produced and engineered it!

3. What contemporary bands has Rooney been influenced by? Any favorite music?

I listen to a lot of music from yesterday and I'm still learning and loving older bands. For new bands, I like Of Montreal, Phoenix, Empire Of The Sun, Castledoor, Solobob, Richard Swift...the list goes on.

Thank you! Take care,

AHHHH! i love Robert. He was really cute in The Princess Diaries, anyway my darling crush aside here is the youtube video I was talking about in the interview, if you listen halfway through the song I really like comes on! (Scream)!!

Also, Robert has a solo project he calls Solobob, here is a music video I love by him!!

And lastly, here are live performances of my favorite Rooney song!! for the first one you gotta skip to the middle for it tho!

2010年3月3日 星期三

Albert Brooks' BMW

According to certain Taiwanese religious masters, when we die we enter the afterworld, where every moment and deed of your life is recorded in a notebook, and if you deny accusations regarding your past actions, they turn back the wheel so to speak and replay the moment in question from your past life. When I heard that, I immediately thought of the movie "Defending Your Life" by Albert Brooks. It's actually one of my favorite movies and that is exactly what happens in the story. It would be incredibly funny if that was what happened to people when they die, how they enter the judgement city and defend your life for a week with an attorney and prosecutor; screening incidents in your life in screening rooms (speaking of which process is strikingly familiar to our end of the year reviews at film school! So hilarious).... In a weird way it's quite possible that "Defending Your Life" stages a similar version of what happens when people enter the after life, it seems like a very correct trajectory I suppose. In the case of the movie anyway it makes a lot of sense in an ingenious and deeply entertaining sense at the very least....yet what's harder is to make a film under such a premise and actually pull it off! I bet this sort of material could be so many different things depending on the creator, one can easily imagine a Woody Allen version of "Defending Your Life"(speaking of which "Another Woman" could be a remarkable companion piece to Defending Your Life) I suppose, or maybe Mike Nichols would make something very different and idiosyncratic, basically any of the likely directors from that time period who tackles "humane" subjects frequently or not would and could make "Defending Your Life", but Albert Brooks' version takes an approach that is unnoticeable in how it makes the material convincing, which is the Casualness of it all I believe. It is surprisingly compatible with the story material to make it as unassuming and understated as possible, in other words "deadpan" that makes the movie all the more funny in a sense. It's understated in a way that it doesn't really matter if you laugh out loud, because it's silly and of it's own logic so to speak.... It's just that the details of the script makes such a hysterically funny contrast to the consequences of the character's fate, such as I love how it starts off as a regular day at work in sunny Los Angeles, and then his BMW gets into a car crash, which is how he dies of all things. Or such as in one particular episode from Albert Brooks' life that they screen in the judgement room how when his Japanese friend urged him to invest in Casio digital watches yet he declined and chickened out on the investment (bad idea).... it's seriously hilarious when that is what they look at at the end of your life, yet it somehow makes so much sense that these trivial and Seinfeld-ish details are what make up who you are! It's too funny but ultimately fascinating to look at these lame details in his life, for example taking pride in taking the first class ticket to Hong Kong when he's nearly broke in order to treat himself after a tough divorce. I mean, who comes up with these things? I can only call it brilliance. It's really the details in the film that are brilliant, not necessarily the premise.... what's so amusing is the insignificance of it all, which is how life seems to people a lot of time anyway! Who could've thought a lame life could be so fascinating??
Other details such as making the prosecutor the much hated "dragon lady" is also a great touch that makes everything all the more fun....by the way, this movie also has a great ending.

2010年2月27日 星期六

Up in the Air and An Education

A critic that I really admire, to the point of having a little crush on, put it nicely when writing about Up in the Air that "The problem remains that Reitman, who mainlines sincerity by showing real fired folks baring their souls to the camera, may not want to tell the difference." I liked the movie, but the ending had too many loose ends, and I can't help but wonder if establishing that Vera Farmiga was married with kids was totally necessary. It seemed liked a convenient shortcut to end the relationship they had, though I cannot undermine that these things DO happen....perhaps I would've appreciated if the film at least gave some hints of her having a family, I wouldn't even have minded if we knew first hand that she did, because it would've at least took some ambiguous gloominess away, if it took a lighter but serious approach, such as in a movie like Terms of Endearment. But when you look at a film you often look at the director, and Jason Reitman to my knowledge isn't married or anything, in his early 30's, I don't quite belive he understands what it's like to have a family to really harp on these subjects as heavily as he does in the film. To be more specific, to me when George Clooney goes to his sister's wedding, it's as if that's Reitman's Superficial idea of family relations and intimacy, it's all a superficial image of "How it Really is", rather than just making it acceptable; we're meant to automatically accept these relations and people as the real deal so to speak....
What I did like about both Up in the Air and An Education is the underlying question of Love and how we DO want it, I do believe that is why people are interested in getting involved with these films, We want to know if George Clooney takes the next step or if Carey Mulligan gets her heart broken... yet more intrigueing is how both films paint Love as such an elusive concept and under such strenuosly complicated situations! It might just be a sign of the times... romance is sort of represented as a commercial commodity such as valentine's day chocolates or paid online dating services, "romance" as just an idea to sell you and make money from.... so much so that the thought of romance can seem just as cheap and frivolous to anyone in our day and age, something like a fantasy. It may just be that in our culture there exists no middle ground---either love is thought of as a fool's paradise or as silly and idiotic. Certainly in the case of George Clooney's character it seems that way, the moment he lets himself become vulnerable and take a plane to his love interest's home, she is shockingly married with kids... I mean, what's that all about?? I think this sort of confused scenario has been appearing in films a lot in recent years, the confused concept surrounding love, to the point that "Love" as a subject seems unspeakable, perhaps because there's nowhere to begin with....there's too much fear to admit that it exists, because we all know too well the full implications of the hard realities and cynical truths in love relationships (rather than "love", we talk about "relationships", what an ambiguous word that is), but it seems to me that perhaps we're being too harsh on ourselves, I think it's simply essential to understand that none of us know the answers, and to not judge people or situations in a way that scares ourselves or creates traumatic effects in our minds in a way----
Speaking of which what is so funny about An Education is how throughout the film there's a dread of something unspeakable and horrifying about the character of Peter Sarsgaard in the film..... but in fact that wasn't exactly the case, although yes he is legitimately immoral. HAHAHA! An Education is a really great film actually... one reason because it is cast so well, and with so much zest.... I can't remember there being too much energy and liveliness in casting lately, I feel that the kind of cating in which each actor brings a special personal touch to the role is pretty much a lost art these days.... "these days" it seems that first rate actors are cast just to decorate meaningless films, such as perhaps John Turturro in "Transformers", but who do you cast Turturro for?? It's hard to imagine someone being equally interested in both John Turturro AND Transformers with the same passion... not that you need to be interested in Alfred Molina in An Education with a passion to appreciate his character or the film... but all you need is an appreciation of the colorfulness and the way it this actor in this role succeeds in amusing you and involving you in this story I suppose! I definitely fell in love with Carey Mulligan in the movie, and I do believe if there'a a girl you can fall in love with in a movie you've got a great movie, her charm really comes through in every shot. Again, An Education is not blessed with a good ending... but why?? Well before I get into that, the lovely period details in the film are, well, really nice... it made me feel like I was breathing in that period, and it wasn't overstated, it succeeded becuase it showed the 6o's "feel" with a modest elegance I suppose. It's also great because there'a certain resonance to a young girl's dilemma between homework and romance that is instantly relatable, and charmingly epic so to speak.... and what's brilliant even is the gradual realization of the consequences of carelessly abandoning your responsibilities and how the audience realizes these things along with the character at the same time.... so I guess, in the end, why is the ending weak? bland? It's not actually bad, but in this film as well as Up in the air the ending simply lacks the magic inherent in the best parts of the film....is it the disillusionment of the romance that causes that? perhaps the films are confusing themselves with the love relationship itself, whereas the memories of the sweet times were what was so great about the movies themselves, such as in the night where George Clooney and Vera Farmiga hung out all night in Miami, such a lively and memorable sequence. The relationships ended in a mess and in the end both Carey Mulligan and George Clooney seem altogether too mellow.... I can't say it isn't the appropriate ending though!

2010年2月26日 星期五

So, I'm so glad I'm finally buying the DVD for the Claire Denis movie "I can't sleep", which I've wanted for 8 months now. Predictably the DVD is only available in the new or used seller section on amazon or half.com, the new ones being literally overpriced, but there was a "like new" copy that was 10.50 on half.com, and I've had my eyes on it for months, yet the funny thing was the morning I decided to finally buy it it was no longer available and bought by someone else! I eventually decided to buy a prior rental copy from another seller..... funny how that is....