Sunday, 28 November 2010
Sunday, 21 November 2010
Were you scared? I tried to make Jim go back, but, you can't make Jim do anything. Thank you for not telling them that we...
Edward: You're welcome.
Kim: It must have been awful when they told you whose house it was.
Edward: I knew it was Jim's house.
Kim: You... you did?
Kim: Well, then why'd you do it?
Edward: Because you asked me to.
The biggest Thank You goes to lady R. for reminding me of this, unintentionally...
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Christy: Why does your relationship status say 'single' on your Facebook page?
Eduardo: I was single when I set up the page.
Christy: And you just never bothered to change it?
Eduardo: I don’t know how.
Christy: Do I look stupid to you?
Eduardo: No...calm down...
Christy: You’re asking me to believe that the CFO of Facebook doesn’t know how to change his relationship status on Facebook?
Eduardo: It’s a little embarrassing, so you should take it as a sign of trust that I would tell you that.
Christy: Go to hell!
Eduardo: Take it easy!
Christy: No, you didn’t change it so you could screw those Silicon Valley sluts every time you go to Mark!
Eduardo: Not even remotely true, and I can promise you that the Silicon Valley sluts don’t care what anyone’s relationship status is on Facebook. Please, open your present...
Open your present. It’s a silk scarf.
Christy: Have you ever seen me wear a scarf?
Eduardo: This will be your first.
But sometimes...an unexpectedly beautiful thing appears, just asking to be shared.
Like this one...
Saw 'The Social Network' the other day - and was, as always, mesmerized by Fincher. But that feeling of adoration deserves at least a post of its own.
This tiny little sequence, however, had to be shared now - as it made me re-think our expectations of our partners, and the dlusion we so often grow up with, that the person we share our life with should be of the kind that satisfies a form, a shape, a pre-designed model we desire of them.
Eduardo Saverin is certainly the most loveable character of the movie; there is a certain traditionality to him, a very moderate sense of politeness, and a sense of 'human'-ness and gentleness that the other characters lack. He is instinctively almost impossible not to like.
Yet, this is what the viewers - us - see from the outside. Christy sees something else: a confused character, unwilling to share much, and probably unfaithful too; 'cause, what else would he be doing not answering her calls, than spending time with another woman at the time? And the silk scarf? In the viewers' perspective: a clumsy, but thus even more endearing attempt of showing affection which perfectly matches his confusion. In her perspective: an act of a careless man, who probably wasn't even thinking of her when buying it; a generic present from an unfaithful man.
People come as they are. And they can be the kindest, nicest, most endearing personalities - but they are rarely as we imagine them to be. But our inability to see that, to be open to exploring how they really are, instead of expecting them to be 'just as they should', can sometimes mean missing a tremendous much. Or maybe not. But without trying, we'll never know.
Or maybe I am just sentimental, and not so much hating the idea of silk scarves.
Or maybe, just maybe, it's just Sunday...
Sunday, 20 June 2010
"Oh, as if you had no choice? There's a moment, there's always a moment, "I can do this, I can give into this, or I can resist it", and I don't know when your moment was, but I bet you there was one."
Friday, 11 June 2010
Sunday, 6 June 2010
It all started with two stories.
The first one? Well...C - my beloved partner in crime - and I recently went to see György Pálfi's latest film, 'I am not your friend'. We took lovely company, and, in the dark of the cutest little cinema, enjoyed a film that was - to me - more interesting than good. A hyper-realistic chronicle of relations between a few odd (to say the least) couples in contemporary Budapest, it felt (and indeed was, as we later found out) highly improvised, raw and very authentic in a way. Yet, to my amateur-ish eye and an ear resilient to any sounds in Hungarian (and it is not that I am not trying - but it is just a language incredibly complex, and unbearably rich in words for a poor beginner), Pálfi's movie didn't seem like something so 'new' and remarkable as it could have been - it felt almost 'overdone' at times, and I would have, in my occasional attacks of smugness (of which I am not at all proud, but I am learning to face and control their existence), probably labeled it as an interesting experiment, but nothing previously unseen, before moving on to enjoying something more appealing and exciting to me in its novelty and depth. Yet C's reaction to it made me confused, almost embarrassed: he related to it completely, proclaiming it to be brilliant not because of its style or visual beauty, but because of how authentic it is, and how precise in capturing the decadence of the Hungarian capital; Yet, as the dialogues were untranslatable in all their colloquial glory, and the feel of the city was foreign to me, it was obviously something that I cannot understand or relate to - and the sad truth was that he was right, I really couldn't. And while we were talking after we exited the cinema, for moments it would seem to me like we had seen two completely different films - and the loss, it was obvious, was all mine...
And so, for the next two days, I was haunted by the idea that I will never, even if I really try, be able to understand some things about not only Hungarian, but foreign cinema in general; the topics, the small cultural references, the subtle insinuations to actual political or other happenings that marked the lives of locally rooted heroes, even the fine nuances related to how they spoke (with language transferring all sorts of messages, from their social status to general manners), were just simply 'untranslatable' to my world, and therefore out of my reach - putting me in a position similar to that of an anthropologist doomed to always observe a 'foreign' culture without ever being capable of 'understanding' it. And 'Aurora', the movie I wrote about recently, seemed to be the sole peak of my horror caused by ignorance: the loooong takes depicting details of everyday life which must have had a deeper meaning that was just invisible to me, the football references that mush have had a story behind them, one of which I obviously had no clue about...There must have been - I felt - so much more to those three hours than I ever could have spotted, and that made me tremendously sad in a way. But was this really so? 'No', said the unlikely voice of my newly acquired Romanian friend, a passionate follower of the Festival and a film critic; According to him, there was nothing that I was really missing - most of those references were completely irrelevant for the story anyway, or were not really references at all (for instance, for him, as he doesn't follow football, the football 'sparks' were no less confusing than for me, only he took them as far less relevant) but only 'time-fillers'; besides, the general idea of 'Aurora' was just as understandable to both of us, and it was its universality that made it a really great film.
From that conversation on, I've been thinking a lot about the universality of cinema, and of the 'transferability' of ideas across different cultures and language barriers. How much do I lose when watching a movie in a language I don't understand, and how much of it gets - literally - lost in translation? If a certain story is indeed focused on being a study of something 'locally' rooted, how valid and meaningful can it be at all, when taken out of its original context? And is it really true that the marking of a really good movie lies in the universality of its primary focus(es), or is this just a misconception, based on the ignorance towards the problem of 'translatability'?
Very raw, naive questions, I know - and ones that have to do less with movie-making, and much more with philosophy than I would like them to. And, no, I don't (yet) have a satisfactory answer to share. But I am open to readings, opinions, attitudes - anything that might get me a step closer to my own personal answer(s)...
Friday, 4 June 2010
Finally saw Cristi Puiu's 'Aurora' last night, as the last movie I managed to 'catch' so far at the TIFF; and in a way, it was disturbing and moving enough for me to still think about it today, and it caused in me a need to write a couple of quick lines about it, even tho I really didn't want to in a way...and yet, it wasn't what I expected it would be.
'Aurora' is a tremendously sad film, one about a man who has lost love in his life, and will do anything in order to 'improve' that - but his choice of 'improvement' is just unbearably wrong, tho, it seems, it is the only one he can think of, a sort of a last attempt to make things right, by making them completely wrong.
The topic in itself is beautiful; and so is Puiu as the understated, silent, not-really-existing-anymore Viorel. But all this still doesn't amount to a beautiful film. The biggest problem is, paradoxically, the movie's length; In his previous film, 'Lazarescu', capturing the slowness of time passing was necessary as a way to illustrate the slowness of the system. 'Aurora', however, has no intention of dealing with the system - it is a film so tremendously private, it made me feel like a voyeur on occasions; and as much as Puiu tries to root it in the contemporary Romanian society (and he does so through a number of amazing little details, conversations, nods and looks; unfortunately, while some of them were visible to me, I was painfully aware the entire time that most of the finesse is just slipping through my fingers like fine sand - as a foreigner, it is hard to relate to little everyday things that are, to me, completely unknown, and for which I just have no interpretation, or even feeling. But this is always the danger of film as medium - its narrative is never quite translatable, and a lot of it gets lost in between layers; luckily, some of the messages are universal - were they not, it would make watching foreign films completely impossible...), its story is universal in a way that allows it to re-play itself anywhere and everywhere. The pacing of the movie thus becomes a decision, rather than a necessity derived from its intention - and Puiu makes a somewhat bad choice deciding to observe his (anti)hero with such a lazy, drowsy cinematographic eye, as the final 'finding' just isn't 'big' enough to justify for all the seconds spent in waiting for its revelation. But it is definitely sad enough, regardless of whether one perceives the poor Viorel as insane, tragic, or just unbearably lonely (and, as one of the characters of the movie labels him, 'a big softie'). Puiu's film might be viewed as a study of human nature, and our capability of committing a crime (in that view, it shares an overlapping territory with another amazing film I've seen recently, Bong's 'Mother') - and seeing it like this, pulled through the filters of morale that places the biggest value on the the life of a person, feels 'right' somehow. But for me, it is more a study on sadness of an individual, who is only 'crazy' when thought of as of a number, a general Someone, and not an individual with emotions and dilemmas - as much as saying this makes me feel shy, almost embarrassed for my moral drift. Whether the director's decision to shoot it in a slow pace was 'programmatic' (keeping his reputation of the 'initiator', if not the ideologist of the Romanian New Wave cinema) or purely instinctive is maybe less important. More important is his tremendous arrogance in titling the film - 'Aurora', he explained after the screening, means the beginning, and every beginning is a good in itself. For Viorel, however, there is no real beginning anymore - nothing that opens before him promises a field of opportunities, only a prison cell and some more loneliness, just of the kind he was trying to escape in the first place. And only someone completely insensitive of his suffering could play on him such a cruel language trick. But knowing that Puiu and Viorel, for the three hours of the movie, become one (literally, as the latter is both created and embodied by the former), one should maybe think of it only as of self-irony, and not an offense. In any case, 'Aurora' is not an easy experience to live through for sure, but also not an easy one to watch.
Or maybe I just got it all wrong again?
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
I was reading the newspaper on the train today, and I ran into this quote...quite honestly, at first I thought it doesn't belong here, as it is not at all about cinema, and it is most certainly not a movie quote either; However, it somehow stuck with me, and I decided to bring it to this page of the universe because, for me, she so perfectly summarized (speaking about music) the things that I have been missing in cinema recently - the love of the art of film, instead of the need to conform to the financial restraints or, in the case of what we label as 'festival' or 'art' cinema (both misleading and wrong tho, but that's besides the point), to the taste of the festival juries and the trends in movieshooting at the moment. I am not a fan of either of the protagonists, but she gave him the most beautiful compliment she could have given - no aggression, just love. Absolutely mesmerizing.
Have been missing a lot of great cinema recently, much more than I have actually seen...but on my way to here, and we'll see where that will get me in terms of visual pleasures...but with Radu Muntean's latest film on board, the Cannes-complimented 'Tuesday, After Christmas', the expectations are high...
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
"Do you ever wish you did?"
"Well... like... now, for instance."
"Well... I just met you. And I feel like telling somebody about it."
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Saturday, 8 May 2010
On how people are unexpectedly beautiful on so many levels sometimes - if we look at them closely, and with the desire to see and understand...
Thank you, C.
Friday, 7 May 2010
Random notes made during long journeys - or some personal memories disguised as issues, or how much may I imagine when imagining meanings in cinema?
Sometimes I become quite fascinated by simple things I learn about people – the small but significant nuances in opinions we have, but which I would never have guessed, or even supposed, on my own; their unbelievable insights on what seem to be the most irrelevant of life’s details, or complete ignorance towards what I would suggest would be things of particular importance to everyone and anyone. And in the past few days, one of those things, which might seem completely unimportant in any real life context, has been hunting me – our ability and ‘habit’ to attach meanings to cinematic experiences; but not in the sense of attaching emotional value to, for example, a film screening that we’ve seen with a dear person – but strictly having the need to ‘add’ to a film we’ve seen that certain ‘extra something’ that seems as though if it were its ‘connotation’, a hidden (or less hidden) message, a moral ‘extra’ or a theoretical implication that can be generalized from the brief celluloid encounter. I am having my doubts whether to call this an interpretation: while in most cases to add to the film narrative such an ‘extra’ in meaning definitely would mean interpreting it, it’s the teeny but still important percentage of those films to which I am completely unable to attach such an ‘interpretative addition’ that bother me; maybe it is indeed just an issue of me sometimes being a really bad interpreter, but I still do, occasionally, stumble upon those films which just seem to be completely emptied of meanings, like sets of pretty images, but without a common interpretative tie of any sort...
The problem of meaning came to me through two completely unrelated events. In the first event, T clashed with a blockbuster – and was left puzzled. I have recently been lucky to get a chance to do some travelling to one of my favourite, calmest getaway places; My getaway is, however, often also a film-related one: while being far from my usual setting, I tend to adapt to someone else’s taste in movies as well, which often results in seeing films that I would have probably otherwise skipped. For me, it is a game of sorts – the letting go to someone completely, allowing him to lead in a field that I sometimes take perhaps a slight bit too seriously - often with lovely unexpected results: in previous ‘rounds’ I have discovered the beautifully naive cuteness of the last ‘Star Trek’ movie which probably would have passed next to me without me ever spotting it on my own, have laughed at the horrendous acting of Nic Cage, and almost ruined a tie of our mutual adoration when I have expressed my dislike towards ‘Avatar’ (luckily, the tie was saved with some charm invested...). This time, we made a mutual agreement to see ‘Iron Man 2’, a movie that would probably never found its way to my list of must-sees, but which had a couple of instant pluses (one being the charm of Robert Downey Jr. for sure) which made it a-OK in my book. However, as we came out of it two hours later, I was completely puzzled: the movie seemed literally like an empty slate, one that had nothing to say about anything important in life. OK, so there is a superhero; he’s rich and lonely and cynical, and the sole rescuer of world peace. But, when we forget about only the film for a while, and start thinking about a broader image, in which (ours and others’) actions have consequences, we find them to be morally right or wrong; in which there is a starting idea that everything that is done is somehow related to a ‘wider’ field of narrative, is talking about something not necessarily drawn on the screen...’Iron Man 2’, it seemed, had absolutely nothing to offer. This was further strange because it was a superhero movie, and those usually do come with a morality/justice story. But it could have been anything, any sort of ‘message’ that was encrypted, or that I could have ‘written’ into it by catching glimpses of ideas and seconds of symbols on the screen. And yet, nothing. Absolutely nothing came to me.
The other event was a complete reverse. My partner in crime and I swapped roles for an evening, and in a reversed game, went to a meeting of a film club. It was a small group of enthusiasts, with a projector and a lot of good will, and shown for the evening were two films: ‘Blast of Silence’ by Allen Baron (1961) and the short&sweet ‘C'était un rendez-vous’ by Claude Lelouch (1976).The feature film of the evening was admittedly good, but as I have never been a noir lover at heart, it gave me things to think about, but no real tingles. But the short film won me over instantly. A story without a story, it is a little experiment with technology of sorts: a one-take 10-minute rush down the streets of Paris, all shot from the car. But if the visual footage of the ‘race’ itself was not so particularly captivating for me, the layers and layers of beautiful ideas that one could inscribe into it were simply fascinating.
On one level, it is a 10-minute transmission of creative energy – and one that immediately awakes in the viewer the desire to see more from a director who has so wildly, almost instinctively, let go and embraced the idea that gorgeous results can come from ‘action’, rather than from ‘philosophy’ of storytelling developed in details. It also tells something about the period in which it was made: although the French New Wave was in no way as unified as it is sometimes sloppily presented today (compare the meditative Resnais to the loudness of Godard and the naive softness of Truffaut, and it shall be visible instantly), it had a certain stream of creative energy which came far beyond just moviemaking, and the braveness of the period can be felt from the wilderness of the chase, almost as if it were its paradigmatic example of sorts (tho, truth be told, it came too late, historically).
But what struck me as really special about the movie is that it can be read as the most beautiful love story: the speed, the turbulence, the risk, all the rushing through red lights, all of this undertaken only to be in time to meet ‘your’ lady – and what a lady she is indeed. And what if, in itself, it is also a metaphor for a relationship: it is one of constant turbulence, in which both have crossed the rules of the boring normality so many times, both emotionally and sexually, and the intensity of the mutual sparks could at the same time be their biggest mutual high and an invite for destruction; and yet, all the wilderness of their emotional rollercoaster and verbal duels cannot blur the fact that it is in the arms of the other that the calmness comes, and they belong to each other fully, naturally – as a model couple, the one that always re-strengthens its ties in the end. Finally, what if it says something about women in a manner less nice – if it is a male confession on the firmness of the female grip, the mocking of the usual stereotype in which no evil is worse than the woman you’ve got at home, and it is simpler to break the rules of the system, fight the speed limits and making an occasional wrong turn, than it is to deal with her dissatisfaction if you are late to pick her up – the horror of which would have started only after the camera stopped shooting, but which is in a way present by evoking the stereotype silently? Or, what if...?
Of course, it is highly unlikely that the author had all these ideas in mind when he decided to play with a bit of equipment and a nice car; he was probably completely uninterested in any of them. But it is wonderful how his film just invites us to ascribe meanings to it, to interpret its consequences, and push it further and further on. My cinematic partner was impressed by the engine sounds, finding the ‘technical’ details of the film amusing; I was at the same time dreaming of the greatest love story ever told in so little time, and was fascinated by his lack of need to attach additional meanings to the shots, when he so simply could have done so. Yet, we were both ‘right’ in a way, I think; and the fact that the film had left so much space for interpretations didn’t make it at all ‘weaker’ – but amazingly good and interesting. Which is what I lacked with ‘Iron Man 2’ – beneath all the shine and famous names, it was amazing how there was no story to construct. And I wanted to: I wanted to think about loneliness; about the monopolization of world peace and its consequences; about the image of the army; yet nothing felt quite right, and the movie just felt empty.
What should one do with such ‘empty’ films? Is it the problem of the films, and the fact that they should offer more to its viewer? Or is it the problem of the viewer – in this case, me – who expects something, and is yet unsure of what that ‘something’ should be? Is my ascribing of potential meanings to Lelouch’s film somewhat unfair – in the way that I allow myself the liberty of ‘imputing’ so much, that it almost makes it seem like I am trying to find a meaning for a film I didn’t initially understand, but want to make something out of? Or is it just a part of reviewing a movie, the arguing for multiple levels of cinematic text without any shyness, as long as they can be somewhat argued for convincingly?
So many questions, so little answers, I know...but felt like sharing some thoughts, and maybe getting some in return...
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Oh, the layers and layers and layers of texts that we forget to read sometimes - so gorgeous...
Acquired from C (thankyouthankyouthankyou) who found it here.
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
On things we take for granted (inspired by 'Selo bez žena/Village Without Women' by Srđan Šarenac, 2009)
There's been so many topics I've been thinking about the past few days, and that I really felt like I should write about, and yet I somehow never managed to get past the first couple of lines: everything that seemed so inspired and interesting while sneaking around the corridors of my mind would suddenly become so bland and uninspired when taking the form of black letters typed up on paper. I guess I was once again reminded of the fact that the only thing worse than knowing you have nothing to say is thinking you actually have quite a bit to share with the world, only to be refuted by the reality.
Monday, 8 March 2010
Yes, they have said it. And they have said it a long time ago - long enough for me to have time to process, memorize and learn it. And yet I failed to obey...
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Monday, 15 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
...morning chaos, eternity chaos, noon chaos, eternity chaos, evening chaos, eternity chaos, midnight chaos, eternity chaos, morning chaos...
Julien Donkey-Boy (Harmony Korine, 1999)
(there are many things predictable and repetitive about me, and my love for 'Julien' is certainly one of them...but about 'Julien', there is very little predictability...)