Movies

The Best of Youth

This was my second viewing of The Best of Youth, though I totally skipped the 1st part this time. And also a bit of 2nd part’s beginning. It was that urge which somehow has parallels to the childhood desire to grow up quickly. I just didn’t want to see the characters in that 1st phase of their lives, may be because that’s the stage I am currently in.

Anyhow, its an epic. Yes, a relatively unseen and unknown epic. More unseen, then unknown if one may say. Primarily because of its long six hours duration, which is the greatest thing about it and also the very thing which will keep it unseen for the rest of its life, or rather the life of we human race.

A great review will be a good tribute I guess, and which in turn will be a great reason to watch it again.

Though it feels suspect, but I guess I can welcome myself to blogging again.:)

 

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In the Mood for Love

It is a restless moment.
She has kept her head lowered,
to give him a chance to come closer.
But he could not, for lack of courage.
She turns and walks away.

That era has passed.
Nothing that belonged to it exists any more.

He remembers those vanished years.
As though looking through a dusty window pane,
the past is something he could see, but not touch.
And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.InMoodLove

There’s something strange with Wong Kar Wai movies, the more I watch them the more I happen to like them. Some time ago Chungking Express was my favorite movie, and I had happened to watch it three times. Then came the second viewing of 2046 and it seemed to push Chungking Express behind. And now there’s In the Mood for Love knocking up there, as I watched it one more time.

The magic of Wong Kar Wai’s just seems like a gorgeous dream that just keeps repeating itself, making you remember it more vividly then ever.

The male protagonist, Chow Mo-Wan, once tells his friend that in his country when people want to unburden a secret, they go up a mountain and dig a hole to bury the secret there. But its not some secret that Chow Mo-Wan wants to get rid of, but several feelings and emotions that could not could not reach their rightful conclusion. That’s the end of the story, which begins with Chow Mo-Wan and his next door neighbor So Lai-zhen slowly discovering the infidelity of their spouses and then starts the playful enacting of scenarios of how their spouses could have started that very something which now has brought them together. Little they realise, or may be they fully do, about what has started brewing between them but something hold them back, keeping them form doing what their spouses did, by painting their relationship in colors that their spouses soiled. Well, that’s actually the story, which I guess was all Wong Kar wai had in mind when he would have concieved the idea or rather when he started shooting, as it’s charactersic of his style of never working with any script and developing the story with each scene, often shooting more and then carving the story while final editing.

The movie’s a veritable mood peice, fleetingly moving from one scene to another,  shifting between different hues and colors, yet always blending with the overall melancholic and at times melodramatic texture.  The colors, the music, the different directions. In one scene, titled Last Reunion, both meet in Angkorwat, then there’s another scequence titles Room 2046, where their relationship reaches the level which they always seem to shy away.  hese all threads look to be the remnants of his movie making style but then there was this comment by Wong Kar Wai himself, “the role of Tony in the film reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s in Vertigo. There is a dark side to this character. I think it’s very interesting that most of the audience prefers to think that this is a very innocent relationship. These are the good guys, because their spouses are the first ones to be unfaithful and they refuse to be. Nobody sees any darkness in these characters – and yet they are meeting in secret to act out fictitious scenarios of confronting their spouses and of having an affair. I think this happens because the face of Tony Leung is so sympathetic. Just imagine if it was John Malkovich playing this role. You would think, ‘This guy is really weird.’ It’s the same in Vertigo. Everybody thinks James Stewart is a nice guy, so nobody thinks that his character is actually very sick“.

Here’s a video reflecting upon the music of the movie.

Weekend Movies

The ReturnThe Return is a moving drama about two brothers whose father returns back after twelve long years. The brothers Ivan and Andrey, aged around twelve and fifteen respectively, live with their mother and grandmother. While Andrey, has an amiable, going with the wind attitude, younger Ivan is much more stubborn and deeply emotional. As they run back home after a fight between themselves, they are shocked to know their father is back, whom they then confirm from an old faded photograph. Slowly the strains of the long absence start becoming obvious as the father fails to show any enthusiasm towards them. Then he tells them of the fishing trip they will be doing a day after. So begins a difficult journey, which slowly becomes emotional as well as psychological in nature as, on one hand Andrey strives to please his father despite his cold demeanor, whereas on the other hand their begins a battle of sorts between Ivan and the father, with both adamant and resentful as ever towards each other. Their journey then takes them to a mysterious island, while the strain between the three almost increases even more.

The movie has a keen elliptical quality as it’s never made clear where the father had been for those years and why he went to that island. Though the father and Andrey deliver their performances very well, it’s Ivan who becomes the soul of the story, capturing the seething undercurrents of the movie. The movie is also cinematically quite accomplished but not that much to earn comparisons with Tarkovsky, as few critics had done.

Quite sadly, the kid who plays Andrey drowned in a lake shortly after the shooting was over.

The movie won, Andrey Petrovich Zvyagintsev, the director, a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

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Girl on the BridgeAt times how well a movie finally comes out to be depends entirely on its lead character, or may be it appears so because of certain performances. Vanessa Chantal Paradis, acting as Adèle, delivers one such performance in The Girl on the Bridge. Adèle is one visceral as well as unlucky girl, who hopelessly falls in love with every guy she meets and as luck has for her the meetings always end as an act of promiscuousness. The opening scene, a monologue by Adèle, addressing as it looks to some jury, almost sets the tone of the movie. Disappointed by her failed love affairs Adèle has decided to end her life, so as she’s about to jump from a bridge she’s stalled by a knifethrower, who talks her out to be his target girl in the knife throwing act. Hesitatingly she agrees and thus begins their journey of luck and adventure.

The movie’s shot in black and white, saddled with swooping camera movements, which give the movie the fleetingness it desires. With echoes of La Strada, the movie may not be that original but Vanessa portrayal of Adèle does adds freshness to it.

Here’s the opening scene.

Cannes 2009, Awards

Palme d’Or : THE WHITE RIBBON directed by Michael HANEKE

Grand Prix : A PROPHET directed by Jacques AUDIARD

Award for Best Director : Brillante MENDOZA for KINATAY

Award for Best Screenplay : LOU Ye for Spring Fever

Award for Best Actress : Charlotte GAINSBOURG in ANTICHRIST directed by Lars VON TRIER

Award for Best Actor :Christoph WALTZ in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS directed by Quentin TARANTINO

Jury Prize Ex-aequo :FISH TANK directed by Andrea ARNOLD &  THIRST directed by PARK Chan-Wook

Vulcain Prize for an artist technician : MAP OF THE SOUNDS OF TOKYO directed by Isabel COIXET

Lifetime achievement award : WILD GRASS directed by Alain RESNAIS

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Complete List Here

NYT Article

The Last Life in the Universe

Kenji is a librarian, living in clean house stacked with books. He has been attempting suicide for some time but something or the other always saves him or rather something always happens just before he is about to commit it. Then one day as he’s about to attempt another suicide, he witnesses an accident of a girl named Nid. He then lands up in the hospital, while helping her sister Noi, and then eventually at Noi’s home. And there begins a small friendship, which distracts Kenji from his habitual attempts of suicide as he ends up spending few days at Noi’s place.

Kenji is also obsessed with the story of The Last lizard, which is about a lizard who one day realizes that he is the last of his species left on earth. This is from where the tile of the movie comes from. Though it’s not mentioned explicitly but somewhere inside Kenji believes himself to be that lizard.

LastLife

The most sublime thing about The Last Life in the Universe is its pace. Even when suicide almost is a daily chore, three people are killed just like that, fourth one dies in an accident, yet life is unhurried at best there. Things move as if in unison, even while they are moving towards opposite ends. While Kenji is a cleanliness freak, Noi’s place just has a look of abandonment. Kenji is Japanese and Noi a Thai, with none knowing more than a word or two of each other’s language. Even the English they speak is broken. Noi slowly turns into Nid and then back to Noi again. One scene Kenji is caught for murder that he did commit and the next we see him back to Noi in Japan. Things do move, but it’s all very calm and quite, it’s not even that there is an underlying stretch of restrain which may break everything if something is disturbed. It’s just like dripping in abandonment, something that someone may feel, if he’s the last life in the universe.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Unbearable Lightness of beingI read the book some two years back, liked every bit of it but somehow it felt hurried then, or maybe I read it so. And because of this I had been a bit apprehensive about watching this movie since then, but guess I was proved wrong. The movie’s quite stunning. The actors perform so seamlessly, so amazingly, in such an unassuming way that you wish the movie to go on and on. The role of Thomas is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, whom I must say I didn’t recognize until I decided to google to see who’s that guy giving such a fantabulous performance that I haven’t seen or heard about. And Voila! He’s Daniel Day-Lewis of There will be Blood fame, this year’s winner of Oscar for Best Actor category. It’s not only Thomas but also roles of Tereza and Sabina played so well that the movie becomes forthrightly a character study trying to unravel its central motif.

The book revolves around and explores Nietzsche’s idea of eternal return which Kundera writes, as below, in the first chapter:

If every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. It is a terrifying prospect. In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every mood we make. That is why Nietzsche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens (das schwerste Gewicht).
If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.
But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?
The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?
Parmenides posed this very question in the sixth century before Christ. He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness, warmth/cold, being/nonbeing. One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being), the other negative. We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness?
Parmenides responded: lightness is positive, weight negative.
Was he correct or not? That is the question. The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all.

So this is what is explored through the three characters (actually four in Book, Franz gets too little of screen time in the movie).

Thomas, the main protagonist is a surgeon and a philanderer who takes love and sex to be two separate things and maintains a balance between the two. Sabina is his mistress with whom he shares a special relationship of understanding; or rather one could say she’s the one who understands him well. This view of his  is not some weakness of heart or of character but it’s his belief. This is quite supported by the stance that he takes against Soviet pressure after writing a political article just for fun. Thomas’s role presents the ultimate see saw between the Lightness and Weight as while staying true to his passions he marries Teresa. As when he had allowed her stay with him, he says to Sabina,  You think I am doing something silly. But how can I be sure about. If I had two lives, in one life I could invite her to stay at my place, and in the second life I could kick her out. Then I could compare and see which had been the best thing to do. But we only live once. Life’s so light. Like an outline we can’t ever fill in or correct… make any better. It’s frightening.

Teresa, played by Juliette Binoche, marries Thomas after one day she unexpectedly lands up at his place following their casual meeting at a bar. Tereza knows bery well about Thomas’s ways but instead of condemning him blames herself to be too week. She even once in a attempt to act on Thomas’s ways ends up spending a night with a stranger but later ends up regretting it and hating herself even more. She loves Thomas even with his infidelities and that becomes her heaviest burden.

Sabina, played by Lena Olin, is the opposite, showing the true essence of lightness. She’s a painter, loves mirrors and understands Thomas well. She loves Thomas but there’s no attachment of her towards him. When Franz leaves his family for her and shows up at her door, though she loves him, she ends up running away. Also she even leaves Thomas and Teresa as Teresa’s unrelenting love for Thomas and the pain form that could have become a burden for her.

The movie stays open to multiple interpretations as weight and lightness are concerned. Kundera says, what happens but once, might as well not have happened at all. If we have only one life to live, we might as well not have lived at all, stating the insignificance of our decisions and so ultimately our life. This is lightness and heaviness simultaneously, because if decisions don’t matter they can’t cause suffering, but yet on the whole this stance makes make life insignificant, thereby causing misery.

I feel like reading the book again and I guess these characters will stay with me for a long time.
Few reviews: here, here n here(of book). And yeah the movie is 100% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.