Thursday, December 6, 2012

Krylya (Wings) (1966) - dir. Larisa Shepitko

As we are all too aware of, nostalgia is certainly a powerful phenomenon to come by. In some cases, such a copious embracing of ones past could be so difficult to fully escape. It may perhaps even shape the very person we have become, and make it nearly impossible to maintain any other way of living. Thus is the situation of Nadezhda Petrovna, the protagonist of Larisa Shepitko’s beautiful character study, 1966’s Wings. Upon the first minutes of the film, we learn that she has just been assigned a position as headmaster at a local school. Throughout the film, however, it is presumed that the oppressive atmosphere of the school - and soon, even her life itself - permeates around her like a fog. She seems cold and distant from the world around her for reasons that, for the most part, remain ambiguous. The narrative of the film is peppered by a series of flashbacks and images that reveal Nadezhda’s previous position - that of a prestigious WWII fighter pilot. This excitement of her past fame, and inability to assume the present, has left her blatantly disillusioned; the rest of the film outlines this tragic circumstance, as she desperately clings for something to live for in this inescapable monotony.

Her yearning for the past is further accentuated by the tedious ongoings of her day-to-day life, both in and out of her workplace. The ongoing conflicts that occur between her students, though relatively trivial, are just enough to put a weight on the rest of her day. With her being so lonely most of the time, the slightest notion of disdain from the children is taken with heightened importance. Luckily, such instances are also often accompanied by moments of bliss. In one particularly pleasing scene, Nadezhda volunteers her participation in a school play, dressing up with other students as giant matryoshka dolls. However, such moments are always fleeting, and never promising the prolonged happiness she so desires most.

Another heartbreaking aspect of Nadezhda’s life is shown within the relationship of her estranged daughter. Within the narrative, it is implied that she has grown apart from Tanya, her daughter who has now grown up and married an older man. Near the beginning of the film, Nadezhda attempts to reconnect with her and meet her new husband. Generally, she is unimpressed, and her presence around the two of them is awkward and unstable. She herself, having never married, is in a relationship with a museum curator; though her assumption into this relationship is less formed out of love, than it is in desperate attempt to gain some kind of feeble stance in mainstream society. Nonetheless, she pronounces her feelings of despair to him, proposing that if she had been her real daughter, she would have disowned her. This scene in particular is a rare instance of her peeling back the layers of her exterior, revealing the genuinely disheartened human being that lies beneath.

Altogether, Wings is a story of self-discovery. Although Nadezhda is definitely past her prime, she still remains stuck in a position of absence, unsure how to cope with reality after being hailed as a war hero for quite some time. Her role as a protagonist is unique for this very reason. As viewers, we follow her into her conscious realization of her diminished splendor in the real world. The first time we meet her, she is getting measured for a suit, being told that she is of “standard size”. Though her physical appearance is not without a tinge of sternness that echoes her previous military experience, she is still rather plain. Outside of the war zone, she is simply another representative pawn in the society surrounding her. Later, she hears her name mentioned in a museum exhibit, in regards to her feats of heroism during the war. It is then when she is taken aback by the fact that she herself has made a mark in history, and a fragment of herself is bound to be present far after her death.

Frequently, the narrative presents visuals of planes flying through the sky; the presentation of these very moments themselves is a refreshing break from the oppressive atmosphere that penetrates the film’s story. This is, of course, what Nadezhda most longs for: boundless freedom, the power to return to her roots and live through such stimulation all over again. The thrills of young love and heroism, she feels, are far behind her, or so she presumes. By the end of the film, however, she summons up the courage to leave her position and acclaim a fresh start. She realizes that, although her past is something that could never completely return to her, there also lies an unpredictable future at hand. The ability to sculpt her own little bits of excitement and  pleasures into the everyday is something she still possesses; her life can be whatever she so chooses to make it. For now, however, her passion remains in the skies.

Wings is certainly an important, unique film by an innovative filmmaker, whose life was tragically cut short before given an opportunity to achieve a prominent legacy. Each and every scene is shot with the utmost precision, and although it does move at a slow pace, there is hardly a dull moment. It is not exciting in the conventional sense and nothing very profound happens - yet at the same time, so much is accomplished. The compelling presentation of Nadezhda’s character is mastered wonderfully by actress Maya Bulgakova. Using only natural body language, dialogue, and gestures, she is able to transform into a character who is both emotionally blank and deep in contemplation and desire. The cinematography also effectively captures the various shifts in mood from instance to instance - from the mundane school life, to the soaring shots of planes in the sky. There is truly no other film quite like this one, that so eases through the complexities of a single character-driven story in such a magnificent, poetic manner. Though it has been unfortunately forgotten by many, its overall importance is undeniable.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I bambini ci guardano (The Children Are Watching Us) (1944) - dir. Vittorio De Sica


The Italian Neorealist movement of the 1940’s and 50’s has proven one of the most influential eras of art cinema from around the world. With its beautiful minimalism and tender treatment of its average characters’ troubles, films of this movement are generally true-to-life, and often very tragic. Along with fellow directors Fellini and Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica reigned supreme in this particular era. Although he is more famous for such weighted films as The Bicycle Thief and Umberto D., his prowess first came into light with the influential The Children Are Watching Us. This film shows a painfully intimate portrayal of a small family’s slow disintegration, a topic that remains all too prevalent in the human experience. Though the narrative itself is omniscient, much of the story’s content is shown through the perspective of the young son, Pricó. As viewers have access to seeing daily occurrences as Pricó sees them, they also, as a result, share the pain and frustration of both his naïvety and the forced ambiguity of his parents as they try to keep their problems as distant from their child as possible.

The film begins with a scene at a local park, as a large crowd looks upon a ongoing puppet show (Pricó and his mother Nina being among the crowd). Frantically, the puppets are engaging in a playful sword-fight, as the members of the audience - many of them children - watch; some in amusement, others, particularly the youngest children, in fear. This is a direct reference to the title of the film, and a thematic foreshadowing of the events to come. Soon, we are informed that Nina has fallen in love with a man named Roberto, with whom she plans to run away. That night, she does just that, abandoning both her child and her husband Andrea. Later, she does return, though not without leaving a deep impression onto the family. The main concern through the majority of the film’s duration relies on Pricó’s vain attempts to make sense of what is going on, to get a firm handle on the family structure, which is inevitably destined to fall apart.

A major characteristic that accompanies the narrative is that of its lack of cohesion of the situation at hand. From the moment that Pricó, Nina, and Andrea are in the same room together, there is an undeniable level of tension between the parents; it’s quite apparent that something isn’t right with their relationship. However, since Pricó is always present, they make it a case to never quarrel around him; moreover, since the story is from Pricó’s perspective, we know as much as he does - which is next to nothing. Later on, when Pricó comes onto an argument between Nina and Roberto, the reason for the crumbling of their own relationship is also left unexplained. The film aims at presenting how such decisions toward silence and distancing affect the well-being of the child, who is utterly confused over the situation he does not and cannot completely understand.

Disheartening for viewers is the fact that, while we share Pricó’s point-of-view, there’s not much within his power to manipulate and improve. His childish essence prevents him from being a conventional “hero”, as the problems that the adults undergo are beyond his own control. One of the more beautifully surreal sequences of the film comes in the form of a montage, as Pricó and his father are riding away in a train. As Pricó looks out of the window, viewers are presented with a series of symbolic images: water pouring into a glass, chaotic dancing puppets, the face of his grandmother. Finally, there is an image of Nina walking through a dark abyss, before she is taken away by Roberto. This montage is set to the locomotion of the traveling train, and is, therefore, representative of the young boy’s situation as a whole. Pricó is aware that something isn’t completely right, but does not fully comprehend the situation and, therefore, cannot change it. Everything that happens is simply moving past him, like scenery out of a moving train, with no possibility of controlling the events.

One of the more impressive traits of The Children Are Watching Us is that of its narrative composition. De Sica organizes specific scenes in certain, subtle ways that tie recurrent themes and motifs together, making the film an exquisite piece of art. There are three separate instances where Pricó gets tucked in at night, each instance soon being followed by tragedy, beginning with Nina leaving with Roberto the night she puts her son to bed. Another frequent occurrence is that of the family’s neighbors. What is not completely apparent through Pricó’s eyes is basically confirmed by the gossiping neighbors; as they pry into every affair that the family undergoes, they are essentially the polar opposite of the constant distancing occurring around Pricó. The movie is also quite the technical achievement, incorporating a number of long takes and deep-focused shots to heighten the level of realism and intimacy of the story.

There are a vast array of individual memorable scenes that are particularly important and prominent in its overall impact. During one of the movie’s few happy moments, the family enjoy a Mother’s Day dinner at the dining room table. This scene, however, is accompanied by an ominous, tragic background violin score. We learn later than this is a foreshadowing of a quarrel between Nina and Roberto, which later occur in that very same room. Another scene involves a disenchanted Pricó finally running away from home; his constantly being shooed away by nearly every adult he comes across painfully continues the theme of neglect and abandonment.

Like many works of Italian Neorealism, this one ends on a significantly tragic note. In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the whole film, a confrontation between son and father pressures Pricó to tell of his mother and Roberto’s recently rekindled relationship. Unable to break a previously-formed promise with his mother, Pricó bursts into tears, and Andrea figures it out on his own. It is at this moment where he realizes the pain that has been unfairly cast upon the innocent young child. He tucks him in that night and, soon after, sends him to a boarding school - just before he kills himself out of despair. Nina visits her son at the school to comfort him, but he refuses to acknowledge her presence. The film ends with both Nina and Pricó in tears, as he slowly walks away, never once looking back at his distraught mother. By no means is this a happy ending; Nina alone must now try to move on with the death of her husband and the alienation of her child, who has now abandoned her. However, it is due to the fact that the film does not settle for an easy answer that makes the story so effective and undeniably resonate.

In certain scenes, there are frequent moments of contrast between the carefree, innocent world of childhood, and the corrupting lovesickness that often accompanies adult relationships. The Children Are Watching Us is the story of what happens when these two different worlds collide, and the devastating impact it could leave upon all parties involved. Moreover, this film relies much on perspective of events, how the distancing of the issues presented can be problematic, but also provide more insight than immediately apparent, calling upon a rich cinematic experience. Above all else, this film is a masterpiece that treats a touchy, yet completely ordinary, subject with a fair amount of sensitivity and delicate account toward its tragic unfolding. Though ambiguous in its motives, it treats all characters sympathetically; there is no “good” or “bad” side, but there is an bold statement of humanity, apparent in each and every moment of this completely beautiful piece of work.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hausu (House) (1977) - dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi

Horror films are good. Japanese horror films are even better. But what about a Japanese horror film where a notable point in the story involves a man getting transformed into a giant pile of bananas?

Indeed, it is nearly impossible to prepare oneself for a film like Hausu. Calling this film “bizarre” would be a drastic understatement. It certainly is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before, and has left me virtually perplexed, yet strangely fascinated. At the same time, the film itself isn’t necessarily “ground-breaking”, as many of the techniques used are recycled and turn the film into something that could easily be brushed off as novelty. It really has something entirely different going for it.

Trying to make sense of its chaotic story would be an act of senselessness in itself. Rather than focus on a coherent plot structure, the narrative chooses to drown it in an abundance of exaggerated special effects and cartoonish editing. Thus, this is a film about story-telling in itself. If one had to put a narrative to it, it would be of a young girl named Gorgeous who is distraught by the fact that her father has remarried. She forms plans with her estranged aunt to visit her in her mansion over summer vacation, and invites her six friends to join.

Overall, this is about as much coherence as can be found in the tale. There is some form of a subplot involving a doomed romance of the past, and even the aunt’s cat Blanche is somehow connected. Eventually, things start to go wrong when the seven girls are essentially trapped in the house, and start disappearing one by one. The first girl, Mac, is decapitated, and her floating head is turned into a watermelon. Later on, a piano eats off the fingers of the girl by the name of Melody, before consuming her body whole. And those aren’t even the weirdest scenes.

It’s really no wonder that this film is as eccentric as it is, given the fact that the director used his young daughter as a source of inspiration for much of the plot. The film does also seem to derive a load of inspiration from other cinema, from every genre imaginable. One of the girls is an expert at kung-fu, and several scenes are devoted to her simply showing off her talents (in a very wacky demeanor). After some time, the narrative itself seems to be derivative of an episode of Scooby-Doo. Even its technical aspects are consciously aware of such influence: montage sequences reminiscent of 1970’s teen comedy, kooky superimpositions of cheesy animated backgrounds, ironic usage of pop music, and unnatural neon lighting, among others. It is during Hausu’s final third when all of these aspects run wild, and create a psychedelic horror universe unlike anything else.

Does this film make very much sense? Not really. However, I think that’s the point. The film itself seems to be very conscious of the fact that it isn’t conventional. Hausu doesn’t seek to scare audiences, or leave them at the edge of their seats, or even to form any sort of valuable ties with the characters or events at all. It seeks to create an atmosphere that is difficult to describe, perhaps hard to swallow, yet oddly poetic in its absolute, nonsensical hybridity. And boy, does it succeed in that.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Perfect Blue (1997) - dir. Satoshi Kon

Having never seen a single anime I genuinely enjoyed (outside of Studio Ghibli), I'd heard some positive things about Perfect Blue and its director, Satoshi Kon. In actuality, I was not prepared for just how marvelous of a film this really is, and how impacting it would be on my interest in Japanese animation.

Mima is the lead singer of a Japanese pop group, reminiscent of the many girl-bands that had been internationally popular at the latter part of the 1990’s. To the dismay of her fans, she makes a decision to quit the group in order to pursue her dream of being an actress. Her career takes off, but a traumatic experience causes her to slowly lose grip on her sanity. From this point, throughout the rest of the film, the fine line between reality and fantasy are blurred beyond comprehension. This downward spiral is made all the more difficult by a mega-fan - and stalker - by the name of Me-Mania, who attempts to use Mima’s frail condition for his own pleasures.

The amount of emotion and psychological depth presented through its animation is absolutely remarkable. A critic once remarked this as a hypothetical result of Walt Disney’s and Alfred Hitchcock’s collaborative talents; perhaps this description isn’t completely accurate, but the Hitchcockian feel of this work is definitely apparent. At a certain point, the film becomes total chaos; elaborated and convoluted in every way possible. Eventually, the viewers themselves are left perplexed over whether the events are actually part of the movie’s physical story, or simply projections of Mima’s insanity.

However, such incoherence in plot structure is never frustrating or boring. Satoshi Kon succeeds at creating an atmosphere that is both beautiful and enigmatic. Perfect Blue’s setting is in modern-day Japan, a common theme in his films to follow. With such dark city landscapes, embroidered with towering buildings and suspicious streetlights, and blanketed by a billowing darkness, Kon does wonderful things with its animation to convey a realistic depth of field. The visual detail in every aspect of this film, fantasy or reality, carries a dream-like aura, and many scene compositions are produced so brilliantly and really stick to memory.

The amount of influence that Darren Aronofsky retrieved from Perfect Blue is certainly obvious. He bought the rights to the film to reuse the famous bathtub scene in Requiem for a Dream, and the film’s plot is analogous to his Black Swan. And it’s to no surprise, as a film like Perfect Blue really is that impacting. It has created an anime fan in me, something I would not have been able to say previous to my initial viewing. Any fan of psychological drama or nifty animation should not miss this film, as it truly is a gripping, one-of-a-kind experience to be had.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Komissar (1967) - dir. Aleksandr Askoldov

The time and place is the Soviet Union, during the first World War. The Soviets have occupied the Ukraine, the film beginning with the army passing through an abandoned town. Klavdia is introduced; a tough Red Army commissar, who is defined by stabilizing masculinity and utmost patriotism. Not too long after, it is revealed that Klavdia has become pregnant and cannot have an abortion, putting her position in jeopardy. She is sent to temporarily live with a Jewish family: Yefim, his wife Maria, his mother-in-law, and their six young children. Her arrival is not primarily met by open arms; with already much on his plate, Yefim is frustrated by Klavdia’s arrival, especially considering it is her army’s anti-Semitism which put his family in hiding. Not long afterward, however, Maria offers Klavdia a pair of Yefim’s shoes, a symbolic gesture that affirms her acceptance into the household.

This also begins a truly profound journey toward a goal of self-reliance through a sense of a true close-knit community. The family feeds her, clothes her, and soon enough, helps her give birth. It soon really becomes as if she is another new addition to their troupe, a new child to care for and nurture. Their sense of bonding, despite her title, is just one reason why this film was banned upon release. Its positive portrayal of the Ukrainian Jewish people infuriated Communist censors at its time; director Aleksandr Askoldov was told that the single copy of the film was destroyed, and he was banned from filmmaking for the rest of his life. Twenty years later, it was revealed that the film had simply been shelved. It was re-released and eventually won the Silver Bear prize at the 1988 Berlin Film Festival. Had it not encountered such misfortune upon its release, this beautiful work of art would have undoubtedly become a bonafide classic. Its sense of community among indifference and such tremendously staying power nearly guarantee it.

The film is probably most effectively driven by haunting, sometimes disturbing images and scenes injected into the narrative. Many of these scenes involve Yefim and Maria’s children, and their indiscreet moments of playtime. In one particularly disturbing moment, three of their sons find and chase after a young neighborhood girl. They then proceed to “play rape” with her, tearing off her clothes as she squirms and begs, before they tie her to a swing and push. The children play an important role in demonstrating a meditation on the perils of human nature, especially during wartime. As pre-adolescents, they are still very naive, and take in the world around them like a sponge. While a soldier goes into war with the intent to kill to defend his country, there is a filter of society, tradition, and a sense of right and wrong. The young boys remain filterless, and only perform what their abstract idea of playtime is. It is through them that the devastating consequences of a war-ridden world are truly out in the open.

Another important show of images is portrayed during the scene of Klavdia’s birthing. The universal action of giving birth is, essentially, one that is the mother’s alone. Likewise, during her grievous, painful process, Klavdia escapes into her own world, and imagines a flashback scene: a troupe of soldiers pushing a heavy piece of artillery up a hill, engaging in the Communist ideal of “many individuals working as one”. Like her, they are struggling, sweating, and experiencing intense pain. This scene is given great justice, thanks to the film’s truly impressive cinematography. The flurry of emotions in this particular scene are exerted with vigor, aided by camerawork, and the black-and-white surreality makes the viewer unsure whether it is day or night. Images erupt onto the screen: sandstorms, wild horses, implications of sex. This scene is so intense and provocative, when it returns back to Klavdia, the effect is almost jarring. Indeed, Klavdia is tortured by these images, much as she is tortured by her excruciating childbirth. Soon after it ends, Klavdia is shown softly singing to her newborn child, a moment that is beautiful and calming, nearly the polar-opposite of her vision. This is representative of the calm after the storm, an effect that is usually frighteningly eerie during moments of combat. This is also a symbol of hard-earned motherhood, something that, although unwelcome at first, is greeted with open arms by Klavdia.

Essentially, Klavdia gradually learns, through her experiences with the family, the importance of self-identification. As a soldier, she is essentially obliged to blend in with her male comrades, to dress like a man, to talk like a man, to be a man. Throughout the film, however, she spends more and more time with the family, and thus begins to form a sense of self. Rather than revealing a clichéd, polar opposite rendition of femininity, the narrative instead chooses to strip away her calloused image and gradually replace it with one of unbridled vulnerability. Not a woman’s vulnerability, but that of which all human beings, young and old, are accompanied by. This introduces the most prominent conflict in this film: one where she must choose between the life she’s always known as a soldier, or the newfound maternity that has been thrust upon her. She must decide whether to be a “child” of her country, or to take on a new role as “mother”. By the end of the film, she makes her decision in a final, extremely heartbreaking scene. It is a definite show of character, a drastic change from the rigid persona she embodied at the start of the film. It is a decision that she has made for herself and for her child, without the perilous clutch of the government to drag her along. It is a sign of her true development into a strong, independent individual, a true commissar.

This film basically has all the elements one could possibly ask for. Nonna Mordyukova, who plays Klavdia, does so with extraordinary confidence and miraculous vigor. She remains fully convincing of her character and its changes, from beginning to end. Rolan Bykov, who plays Yefim, also does a great job. His character is one that is a bit of a prankster, but still remains loyal and loving to his family and tradition. This is seen in one particular situation, when his children fear for their doubtful fate, he invites them to dance with him, as if it would change the tides and save them. As noted before, the cinematography is mind-blowing. Much like 1957‘s The Cranes Are Flying, this film demonstrates the extraordinary, technical elements that are “ahead of its time”, one of the most remarkable traits of classic Soviet cinema. Over all else, this film is powerful, beautiful, and truly remarkable, and is a necessary viewing experience for cinephiles of all types. Do not dismiss this forgotten gem.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro) (1988) - dir. Hayao Miyazaki

I'll start off this review by simply stating that My Neighbour Totoro is one of the most delightful viewing experiences I've ever had the pleasure of having (if not the most delightful!). From the very start, viewers are introduced by a delightful introduction: an amber-colored title screen, with sprightly animated flowers, rocks, and woodland creatures along the edges. This is accompanied by a peppy background song, with Japanese lyrics that translate roughly to "Let's go for a walk! I love to walk! I have so many friends! I'm so happy!" It is from this point forward that I recognized that the film I was about to watch is atypical of any Disney film I was ever brought up with. I was about to watch a film of a more boundless, childlike aura.

The setting of the film is in a traditional village community in Japan, assumedly during the mid-20th century. Two young girls - Satsuki and her younger sister Mei - have moved in here with their father, in order to remain closer to their mother, who is at a hospital being treated for an unnamed illness. They soon discover that their house is "haunted"by tiny black creatures called "Dust Soots". Soon, Mei encounters two small rabbit-like creatures, who, when she follows them, lead her through the woods, into a large tree. There, she meets a much larger version of these creatures, who she calls "Totoro". The two sisters soon come to the conclusion that this large Totoro is the "keeper of the forest", and the rest of the film revolves their encounters with these whimsical spirits.

Anyone who had ever previously seen a film distributed by Studio Ghibli can expect at least one thing from their films; that being the beautiful animation that all of their films tend to embody. Luckily, My Neighbour Totoro accomplishes this wonderfully. From the birds-eye shots of the trees and clouds of the village, to the intricate detail placed in animating the creatures' faces and movements, the visuals are all-around completely breathtaking. It's no lie that Miyazaki's imagination is seemingly boundless; this could be seen in Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, but I believe that its pinnacle truly lies with My Neighbour Totoro. Another thing to note is the simplistic mood and tone that this film so successfully carries. Unlike most Western children's films, this film does not attempt to spoon-feed some kind of moral message through overbearing tragedy or musical numbers. Although there are so many elements of fantasy, the characters of Satsuki and Mei seem so grounded into reality, that when drama does appear in the story, our feelings toward these characters are completely genuine.

If I had one word to describe this film, and one word alone, that word would be "magical". I don't believe I've ever seen another film that portrays the complete essence of childlike imagination as this one has. This film is, beyond all else, a tribute and homage to the limitlessness of child's imagination. At a certain point of the movie, it becomes apparent that these creatures can only really be seen by these two young girls. To me, this is perfect, because I think that such an imagination could only be exclusive to the innocence and naivety of a child. More importantly, this film is a recognition of how delights of imagination provide a sort of escape from the dismal and dreary. Satsuki and Mei use this new imaginative world of theirs to compensate for the ailing condition of their mother. Near the end of the film, when all hope seems lost, both of the girls turn to their new friends to help them look at the world in a new light, and suddenly, everything doesn't seem so bad.

Since its release in 1988, this film has become a classic among both young children and adults, and for very good reason. The film remains whimsical and charming enough to appeal to children, but with a dignified message and level of pathos that adults can appreciate at all. Moreover, the film is very beautiful to watch. Characters like Totoro and the Dust Soots truly capture what the essence of childhood and imagination is really all about - an escape from hardcore logic and an entrance into a magical world all your own. Because truthfully, the world of a child may be the most magical of them all.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, August 5, 2012

TCM's Marilyn Monroe Movie Marathon

For as long as I've been seriously watching films, Marilyn Monroe has always been one of my all-time favorite stars of American cinema. Ever since I first watched her in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes about four years ago, I've been completely enthralled with her magnetism, sex appeal, and overall stage presence. After reading much upon her personality and personal life, I soon came to the realization that, not only was she beautiful and talented, but she was also kind, warm-hearted, and so very intelligent. Unfortunately, not very many of the roles she was given allowed this side of her to completely shine through, but to just know that an independent woman as herself has gotten the respect she deserves is a huge blessing in itself.

When I found out that Turner Classic Movies was holding a marathon of her films today (in memory of the 50th anniversary of her death), I knew there was no way I'd be missing out. Regrettably, although this marathon extended until far past midnight, evening plans forced me to only be able to watch three of these films, which I shall briefly go over for the remainder of this post.

The first of these films is 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, directed by Howard Hawks. Many would say that this was the film that made Marilyn into a star, and for good reason. Her performance in this film as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee is absolutely hilarious, and she plays her part absolutely perfectly. This performance is complemented by Jane Russell, who tends to get the short end of the praise for this film, even though she is also just so great and unfairly under-appreciated. Her "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love" number in itself is just full of spunk and unbridled femininity. The most memorable scene of the whole film, however, comes with the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number, led by none other than Monroe herself. It is a truly iconic scene that has been homaged and parodied a countless number of times. It is well-known that Monroe had rehearsed the scene again and again, nonstop, until she got it perfect - and it is apparent here that the hard work was well worth it.

The second of the films is Billy Wilder's classic, The Seven Year Itch (1955). Tom Ewell gives an excellent performance as Richard Sherman, an average joe who sends his wife and son away on vacation, while he attempts to have an affair with his attractive neighbor. However, I do strongly believe that it is Marilyn herself who really steals the show with this one. I had only seen this film once before and, truthfully, didn't think much of it as first. Monroe plays another stereotypical "dumb blonde" character, but with this second viewing, I was able to appreciate it more. Her script comes with the most delightful one-liners, which she plays off with great comedic timing. My most favorite part of the movie comes when she schools Ewell's character on what a woman really desires:
"Your imagination! You think every girl's a dope. You think a girl goes to a party and there's some guy in a fancy striped vest strutting around giving you that I'm-so-handsome-you-can't-resist-me look. From this she's supposed to fall flat on her face. Well, she doesn't fall on her face. But there's another guy in the room, over in the corner. Maybe he's nervous and shy and perspiring a little. First, you look past him. But then you sense that he's gentle and kind and worried. That he'll be tender with you, nice and sweet. That's what's really exciting."
It is at this moment when Monroe's true character - not her cinematic character - begins to shine through; it's as if Marilyn herself is speaking these words from her heart. From what I believe is just an average film, this may be one of the most satisfying moments in any film I've seen from her.

The third and final film is also my personal favorite of the bunch: Some Like It Hot (1959), also written and directed by Billy Wilder. This film was quite controversial in its time, as the two male leads - Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon - resort to posing as women for an all-female road band in order to escape from some gangsters. Time has softened the blow of its content, but the humor itself remains fresh and satisfying. Moreover, Jack Lemmon is one of my all-time favorite actors, and this film is my second favorite Wilder comedy (with The Apartment leading the way only slightly!). I do believe that Marilyn herself is the most radient in this film than she has ever been in her life. Although this was the point of her life where her personal life was in turmoil, it had never once been apparent in the final product. Her performance as Sugar Kane is one that is both absolutely adorable and great at showcasing the independent woman that Monroe herself had strived to become. This is also one of the finest examples of musical talent that she possessed - just watch her lovely performances of "I Wanna Be Loved By You" and (my personal favorite) "I'm Through With Love". These performances - especially the latter - really reveal a more vulnerable side of Monroe that had either been torn apart by the media, or completely disregarded altogether. It's moments like these when viewers remember that she is, in fact, a human being, one that has been hurt, but continues to build herself up and prevail.

Unfortunately, TCM never played my personal favorite Monroe performance - The Misfits - but I'll save that for another day. Although it has been fifty years since Marilyn's death, her legacy continues to live on, almost as if she were still alive in this day and age. I've heard many call Monroe's image and popularity "overrated" and similar terms, which I would have to completely disagree with. Much of what I've read about Monroe indicates that she was a strong woman, up until her death, and I think that any and all such praise of that alone is not useless and, especially in her case, most definitely deserved.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Poetry (2010) - dir. Chang-dong Lee


The narrative of Poetry is told through the eyes of a 66-year-old Korean woman named Mija (Jeong-hie Yun). Her one general role in life is that of a caretaker, both for her grandson, and for an elderly disabled man who pays her to bathe him and do his errands. She decides to enter herself into a poetry class, with a goal of writing one poem by the end of the month. The real conflict of the film arises when it is revealed that her grandson was one of six individuals who had consistently abused a girl sexually for months, before she committed suicide. Though there is no concrete evidence of this, the girl had revealed the events in her diary, and a police investigation could only be avoided if a financial settlement is agreed upon with the family.

A recurring theme of the film is one of a conscious sensibility, a heightened awareness of the surrounding outside world. The instructor of the writing class informs the students that in order for poetry to be created, one must go out of their way to "see" the world around them. With this new perspective, Mija tends to find beauty in the natural living things, despite the tragedy that is going on around her. While the boys' fathers are focused on the prevention of consequences of their sons' actions, Mija sympathizes for the soul of the deceased. She begins to feel a certain "oneness" with the girl; the poem she ends up completing by the end is even written as if it is essentially through the girl's own voice.

Likewise, the narrative of the film is created so the audience itself forms a oneness with the character of Mija. Much like one reads a poem through an assumed voice, the assumed "voice" here is Mija's presence, and viewers follow her perspective for nearly every scene of the film. The actress who plays Mija does a great job in conveying the most important aspects of her motherly nature, as well as the anguish and frustration she feels for the world's tragedies. The caring side of her is in conflict, because she wishes to protect her grandson so badly, but is also rather empathetic for the victim. In the end, she forces her grandson to live up to his actions. Yet her actions were not simply done to satisfy society's notions of right and wrong, but rather to satisfy the humanistic needs within herself; to put this soul to rest and allow the beauty of life to flourish.

Poetry in itself is conceived much like a poem. Mija herself is the narrative voice. Various motifs are scattered throughout (family, flowers, the color red). The film starts at a river, and ends at the same river. It has its various ebbs and flows throughout its entirety. More importantly, it's absolutely lovely, with a natural style that dwells just below minimalism. It's a film that will definitely take some time to fully process, but continues to be a wonderful journey throughout.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mickey Mouse "Toonography": Introduction & 1928-1929

Despite being twenty years of age and technically a legal "adult", I am a really huge fan of cartoons. I especially love the classic cartoons that were made in the 1920's and 1930's, from the likes of Max Fleischer and Walt Disney. I feel that, since these animated features weren't necessarily made to appeal to children, there was a lot more freedom accessible to these animators, in terms of characterization and overall content. One such character I have recently fallen in love with is one that is undoubtedly familiar to those who were at all exposed to American pop culture as a child; his name is Mickey Mouse.

Before Mickey's conception, Walt Disney had been making the rounds with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character used for many animated films Disney made for distribution by Universal, who he worked for at the time. Oswald was a huge success in 1927, but by 1928, due to economic issues, the character was basically stolen by Charles Mintz. From here, Disney started his own studio and made a new character: an anthropomorphic mouse. He was originally named "Mortimer Mouse, but Disney's wife suggested "Mickey" would be a better fit.

Disney had the following to say about his new creation:
"We felt that the public, and especially the children, like animals that are cute and little. I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could. When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it's because he's so human; and that is the secret of his popularity. I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse." [source]
Mickey is most notable for his mischievous personality (which, regrettably, has dwindled throughout the years), as well as his famous circular ears. He shares his popularity with girlfriend Minnie Mouse, and, in his early films, plays a role that is more like a suitor to Minnie than a hero. Here, I present a list of the films I have seen so far (thanks to Youtube!), plus a mini-synopsis and my rating for each.
  • Plane Crazy (1928): Although Steamboat Willie is usually mistaken for being Mickey's first appearance, Disney did make two cartoons before it; Steamboat Willie was just the first to successfully retrieve a distributor. His true first appearance is actually in Plane Crazy. The highlights of this cartoon are Mickey's attempts at both flying a plane (á la Charles Lindbergh), and trying to retrieve a mid-air kiss from Minnie (who also makes her first appearance here). 3.5/5
  • The Gallopin' Gaucho (1928): The second Mickey Mouse film produced (but not released). This cartoon starts with Mickey riding an ostrich to a restaurant, where he proceeds to drink and smoke. Conflict strikes when Black Pete attempts to kidnap Minnie, who is a barmaid. Pete and Mickey proceed to engage in a sword duel. The latter wins, and the two lovers ride off on the ostrich. 3/5
  • Steamboat Willie (1928): The first Mickey Mouse film to be released, and also one of the first ever cartoons produced with synchronized sound, this cartoon is a parody of the Buster Keaton film Steamboat Bill Jr.. It is essentially plotless, and consists of pretty much Mickey the sailor and Minnie using various farm animals in humorous ways to create music. In my opinion, this is one of the first prime examples of Mickey's personality truly shining through. 4/5
  • The Barn Dance (1929): Mickey and Pete unexpectedly meet in front of Minnie's house to pick her up for the dance. Due to car troubles, Minnie chooses to go with Mickey. At the dance, problems arise when it is apparent that Mickey can't dance and keeps stepping on Minnie's feet. He solves this by stuffing his shorts with balloons (making him "light on his feet"). The cartoon ends with Pete pointing this out to Minnie, who rejects Mickey and settles for Pete. Though this cartoon is rather humorous, it also plays down Mickey's personality, and the ending has him coming across as emotional and vulnerable. 3.5/5
  • The Opry House (1929): Mickey owns a small theater and performs a one-man vaudeville show, with impressions and a piano performance. During the latter, he plays pieces such as "Yankee Doodle", Rachmaninov's "Prelude in C#minor", and Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody #2". There is essentially no dialogue, but Mickey's clash with the piano makes this a fun cartoon. 4/5
  • When the Cat's Away (1929): A character by the name of Tom Cat leaves his house for the day, and Mickey proceeds to use his house to invite his mouse friends over to play music and dance. Some very innovative animation and characterization used here. 3.5/5

  • The Plow Boy (1929): Mickey is a farmer plowing a field with his horse. Minnie and her cow comes onto the scene, with Minnie playing music. She asks Mickey to milk her cow. He does so, and then tries to kiss her to no avail. His horse is stung by a bee, who starts galloping and breaks the plow. In the final scene, Mickey proceeds to use a pig for a plow. Pretty funny and whimsical. 3.5/5
  • The Karnival Kid (1929): This cartoon is divided up into two segments. In the first segment, Mickey is a hot dog vendor at a carnival, attempting to make sales. This segment is highly reliant on sight gags, and feature Mickey's first spoken words (voiced by Disney): "Hot dogs!"In the second half, which occurs later that night, Mickey joins in on a couple of stray cats in singing "Sweet Adeline" for Minnie. This is met by disapproval from another character nearby, trying to sleep. With scenes such as hot dogs behaving like actual dogs, this one was rather adorable. 3.5/5
  • Mickey's Follies (1929): This cartoons presents a barnyard vaudeville-esque show, presented by the ducks, the chickens, a singing pig, and Mickey himself. Here, Mickey plays the piano, sings, and tap dances, though this performance isn't nearly as satisfying as in The Opry House. 3/5

  • Mickey's Choo-Choo (1929): This short centers mostly around Mickey and his train, who has a face and even a unique personality, acting like a character of its own. After lunchtime and a musical interlude, Mickey takes Minnie along on a train ride. Unfortunately, the train finds difficulty in passing over a steep hill. Mickey tries to push it up, but the two end up breaking off the train and go tumbling down through several tunnels. They eventually end up on a handcar and ride away. Cute cartoon, but nothing very special. 3/5
  • The Barnyard Battle (1929): This cartoon conveys a combat battle between the barnyard mice and an invading army of cats. At the beginning, Mickey is shown going through a physical examination, during which he is subject to humiliation. Mickey endures the battle with humor, and when the war ends, he is praised as a hero. This is also one of the more weaker cartoons I've seen thus far. 3/5
  • The Jazz Fool (1929): Mickey, at the beginning, is shown playing the organ on a cart labeled "Mickey's Big Road Show". This first part centers around the farm animals dancing around to his music. Later, the cart becomes a stage, and Mickey continues to play music (this time on a piano), which stretches out to the end. Though the beginning is a bit dull, the piano-playing is more interesting and much more surreal than his more previous films. 3.5/5
  • Jungle Rhythm (1929): In many of Mickey's previous films, there are scenes where Mickey essentially makes music with the animals he finds around him - by pulling a cat's tail or using their heads as drums, for example. This is pretty much what Jungle Rhythm is all about: Mickey is on a hunting expedition, and just when the animals are about to attack him, he orchestrates an entire song-and-dance. Nothing new or interesting here, except for the great example of Mickey's show of character. 3/5
  • The Haunted House (1929): Mickey is lost and trapped in a ferocious storm, so he takes refuge in an abandoned old house. He soon finds out that it is haunted by ghosts and skeletons, who force him to play the organ as they dance. Those who have seen the Silly Symphonies cartoon The Skeleton Dance will recognize much of the reused animation used here. Still a fun short. 3.5/5

That's all for now! I'll be making posts every now and then for the next new batch of Mickey Mouse cartoons (1930-1931). I hope that I have compelled those who read these to check out some of these wonderful classic Disney cartoons!

[Note: all of the above facts that wasn't already known by myself have been retrieved from Wikipedia!]

Monday, July 30, 2012

Star Wars (1977) - dir. George Lucas

Every now and then, there comes a series of films that completely shakes the world from its feet. Very recently, The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final installment of Christopher's Nolan's take on the story of Batman, brought in about $160 million worldwide. Just four years previous, its predecessor The Dark Knight set records in achieving a similar intake. Arguably, one of the most important things to note in perfecting an ideal series is to start with an initial film that sets it off with a bang. This is why the Harry Potter films and Lord of the Rings trilogy have been noted among the best of all time. Thankfully, I have finally been able to access an original VHS of the first film of this truly revolutionary trilogy; possibly even "the one that started it all".

By now, nearly everyone who is anyone is familiar with the story of Star Wars. Writer/Director George Lucas informs us from the very start that the setting is "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away". The story of the film is literally not of this world at all. Through the brilliant and infamous scrolling text introduction, the audience is informed that this current galaxy is in a state of civil war, between the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance. Rebels have managed to steal secret plans to the Death Star, an armed space station capable of destroying an entire planet, and passed them over to rebel leader Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). We then meet a young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who is confronted by a couple of droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO. He finds out that Leia has been taken captive and must be rescued before it is too late. He leaves his planet with former Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), with help from Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee Chewbacca, to recapture the princess and eliminate the Death Star.

What impressed me the most about this film is just the extent of George Lucas' imagination, which is undoubtedly apparent in this intricately created universe that seems to be beyond the realms of any imagination. Every character seems to be so well thought out, and the accuracy of such a storyline is just downright amazing. The writing in general is crafted with such excellence that any film student could only dream of achieving. When phrases like "your lack of faith is disturbing" and "may the Force be with you" have been engrained in everyday modern society and culture, you know there's something truly special there. I would also like to give my highest of regards to the groundbreaking special effects that really make this film as breathtakingly brilliant as it truly is. The shots set in the dark outer depths of space seem so realistic, it's as if one was physically there witnessing the action. Not to forget that these, of course, are aided by the impressive work in cinematography. I would be perfectly confident in adding these sorts of scenes up with 2001: A Space Odyssey in levels of sci-fi amazingness.

I felt personally that the acting itself wasn't all too special. Of course, with a film as visually and narratively magnificent as this one, I think that to complain about the perfectly decent performances would be asking too much from a perfectly decent film. I would, however, like to acknowledge the talents of Alec Guinness, in his role as the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi. He conquered the role with such vigor and passion, and it's impossible to imagine another actor playing him nearly as perfectly. I have seen him perform in a number of other films, and there is only one other performance (Liet. Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai) that I would put above his work as Obi-Wan. I also must mention the flattering detail put into the character of Darth Vader, who surely must have scared the pants off of quite a number of children in 1977. I don't believe that too much of his character had been exposed in this first installment as I would have liked - but that's more of a reason to continue on with the series!

Now, I dare not close this review without even mentioning what I believe is one of the most important aspects of the film overall: the music. From the very first seconds of the film's start, the musical score by John Williams' orchestra booms with such epic vivacity that is uncommon in many similar blockbusters. The score, though similar in sound all throughout the film, has the versatility to change in tone, depending on the situation. It can go from downright epic, to intense, to heartbreakingly beautiful, driven by the simple change in scene. I think it takes a special kind of talent to achieve such abundance while, at the same time, embedding this music into relevance, even for those who haven't seen the films. John Williams is an absolutely giften composer, and for that, I give him a round of applause.

Since I've now finally seen this film, I can't help but feel saddened by the fact that George Lucas has become so big of a cash cow, using any excuse to make money off of what has now become a worldwide franchise. Even though I had not watched any of the films at the time, I was so upset when I learned about the languid editing done for the Blu-ray release back in 2011. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on the original cut, but I find it very disappointing that someone would tinker with what is obviously one of the most beloved films of all time. Having now watched it, I know that its place is very well-deserved. I only wish I'd be able to go back to 1977 and watch it in theaters, because I'm sure the experience would be worth tenfold in the already incredulous delight I felt watching it. For now, I can find pleasure in basking in the forever faithful fandom of this truly miraculous universe.

My rating: 4.5/5

Tillsammans (Together) (2000) - dir. Lukas Moodysson

Having seen and been thoroughly impressed with director Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-ever, I have decided to give the rest of his films a try. I would have most preferred to have started with his debut Show Me Love, but the convenience of Together, which is available now on Netflix instant (and which I've heard good things about in the past), made this feel like a good start to this.

Together examines the relationships between a bunch of eclectic individuals in a 1970's commune in Stockholm called "Tillsammans". Instead of focusing on these characters in the scope of the outside world, this film does the opposite. They are shut in and isolated from community, making the focus, instead, rely on how they communicate with each other, as they strive to rebel against nearly everything that society expects them to be.

Undoubtedly, the film is driven along, not necessarily by a proper storyline, but by these characters and how they interact with one another. The characters of the film are as follows: Göran (Gustav Hammarsten) is the kind, soft-spoken presumed leader of the commune - one may argue that he is the most "sane" of the group. He is in a open relationship with tenant Lena (Anja Lundqvist), but the two are struggling, due to her lack of willingness for responsibility. She is having an affair with Erik (Olle Sarri), who comes from a rich background (which he opposes), and is arguably the most politically-charged member of the group. Also accompanying them are: Anna (Jessica Liedberg), a self-proclaimed feminist lesbian; Lasse (Ola Rapace), her ex-husband; their son Tet (Axel Zuber); and Klas (Shanti Roney), a homosexual who longs to be loved. The story of the film truly begins when Göran's sister Elisabeth moves in with her two children Eva (Emma Samuelsson) and Stefan (Sam Kessel), after she leaves her alcoholic and abusive husband, who soon attempts to clean up his act for his wife and children.

Now, my main issue with the film wasn't with how convoluted the storyline was. There are a great deal of absolutely great films with non-linear plot (I'm looking at you, Pulp Fiction!). Unfortunately, the fact that there as so many facets of the movie to discover makes it difficult to spend too much time on any of the characters at all. I understand that this was meant to be a satirical film, and the setting for this is absolutely great, but it just didn't seem like the characters came across as real people. Rather, they were like caricatures, stereotypes of characters our parents warned us about, and the audience remains at a distance from the goings-on of this closed-in community. I've heard many describe this movie as "heartfelt" and "heartwarming", but because I personally felt no emotional connection to any of them, I really didn't care for them too much at all. The parts that I think were supposed to come off as heartwarming, to me, just felt silly, because of the lack of consistency.

One interesting facet of the film, however, came with the children's paralleling stories. Eva is largely alienated by the members of the commune, and befriends a seemingly "normal" neighbor boy. It soon comes to our attention that his parents are just as dysfunctional as (if not more than) the members of Tillsammans, bringing to light the fact that these hippies of the '70's may not be as exclusively immoral as how the media portrays them. The friendship between Stefan and Tet, though basically glossed over, is also very interesting. At one point, they are shown playing a game where one pretends to be Augusto Pinochet being tortured by the other; for the sake of equality, they take turns being the torturer. It comes across as being very funny and an ordinary staple of young boys at playtime, but also exemplifies how the values of the adults in the household reflect upon the young and naive. To me, the scenes with the children were the most interesting points of the film and really provided the necessary connecting points that were lost from the rest of the film. If this were the whole film, I probably would have liked it a lot more.

I understand that there was a message that Moodysson was intending with Together. Unfortunately, it seemed as though the theme was unevenly distributed through a selection of characters that come across as "fillers", when it would have been much more effective with a definite focus. Of course, I definitely appreciate the effort he made with this, and am planning on seeking out Show Me Love next, since I still am a fan of the boundless creativity that Moodysson undoubtedly possesses.

My rating: 2/5

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Obligatory Introduction: Films Like Dreams begins!

I guess to start off this blog, I should make an introductory post to set things off to a good start.

I suppose I'll begin by talking about myself: My name is Lyzette. I am a 20-year-old college student, currently attending San Francisco State University. One of the greatest loves in my life is cinema. Ever since I attended my very first movie theater viewing with The Lion King at age two, I have steadily acquired an ever-growing love and appreciation for the art of cinema.

Now having grown up in an average Californian upbringing, I have always enjoyed movies. It is just so deeply engrained in our culture and, thus, in myself, it is almost inevitable to have been touched by cinema in some way or another. However, when I first saw Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange at age thirteen, as cliché as it may sound, it had truly changed my life. From the subject matter alone, I could truly see that this was unlike much else I had ever seen (or at least noticed) before. What's more is that there were things being done with the camera and use of close-ups and long shots that created a sort of ominous atmosphere, making it clear that this was clearly not a film to simply "enjoy", but rather it had so much more to say. Of course, I could not have possibly recognized this so adequately, but I could feel it, and for a thirteen-year-old who had been raised on Disney movies and Nickelodeon, this was a big deal.

I suppose you could say that this was the point where I realized that it was okay to explore new territories in terms of film. It suddenly wasn't so important that I had to catch the latest blockbuster as soon as possible, when there were so many other unseen gems to find. I began watching more older films, many of which - e.g. Pulp Fiction, Casablanca, The Godfather, It's a Wonderful Life, etc. - have become beloved favorites. In high school, I discovered Charlie Chaplin by watching The Kid during history class. This had begun an unbreakable passion for silent comedies, and soon, silent film in general.

Eventually, I graduated high school and started taking classes at Moorpark Community College. In my first semester, I took an Introduction to Cinema class with an absolutely amazing instructor. It was during that class when I truly came to terms on how seemingly limitless cinema truly was. In the course, we examined what it takes to make a film - writing, acting, direction, cinematography, editing, and others - and how they came together to basically create magic. I got to see The Wizard of Oz and Donnie Darko (both old favorites of mine) in much different ways than I had perceived before. This was also where I watched Blade Runner, The Graduate, and Stand By Me for the first time. This - along with Intro. to Documentary Film and Screenwriting courses - led me to recognize just how much hard work, talent, and passion goes into making a truly great film. 

Since then, I guess one could say that I have been aiming to watch as many films as possible ever since. According to my iCheckMovies profile, to this date, I have watched 1,260 films. This includes feature-lengths, as well as short films (<45 minutes). Obviously, I plan on watching much more. Although by now I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of films I enjoy over others, I think that watching these films for my own satisfaction is only half of the work. I think it is just as important to inform the public that such wonderful films do exist, and that there is a strong group of individuals ("cinephiles") that find their greatest pleasures in seeking out these films to enjoy them. Cinema is an excellent looking glass from one era onto another, and should never been merely seen as a methods of entertainment. I am truly upset by the knowledge that the vast majority of silent-era films no longer exist, due to mistreatment, abandonment, or just plain indifference. I suppose that this blog is just my way in contributing to the uprising to preserve film.

The title "films like dreams" just suddenly came onto me quite a while ago. I can't exactly tack on a true meaning of the term, but I like to think that the primary explanation is to metaphorically describe the universality of cinema. Sometimes dreams can be deciphered into some kind of meaning pulled from the person's subconscious; even though they sometimes seem to just randomly occur with no real meaning at all. Such is that of film - how accessible the meaning of film is depends on the filmmaker's willingness to derive their intentions and inject whatever means necessary to create a masterpiece. Though their meaning may not always be completely apparent at first, it just makes it that much more interesting for the audience to take what they perceive to be the meaning from it all. And just like dreams, not everything remains exactly the same from person to person. What one person could see as a typical love story could translate, for another, to anything from a comment on the trials and tribulations of love, to an uprising against the social/political ideals at the time - and everything far and in between. And this is why reviews are written - as a means of comparing ideas and broadening our horizons to what others have to say about the same thing. Because film is just that amazing.

This blog will be primarily used as an attempt for me to get back into writing reviews, which I gave up about a year ago due to feelings of inadequacy. Besides cinema, I will also be updating every now and them about whatever shows I'm watching, since it has recently made a comeback in my life. If things turn out right, I want to have between 75-100 reviews posted by about this time next year.

Cheers for the future!

- Lyzette