Archive for April, 2008

April 25, 2008

>Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing – Part 1


Edward Scissorhands (1990) – Edward & Kim*

“You see, before he came down here, it never snowed. And afterwards, it did. If he weren’t up there now… I don’t think it would be snowing. Sometimes you can still catch me dancing in it.”

*The video is a collage of different moments, which contain spoilers.

April 24, 2008

>Sheets, pillows and silence


“The girls’ only contact with the outside was through catalogues they ordered that filled their mailbox with pictures of high-end fashions and brochures for exotic vacations. Unable to go anywhere, the girls travelled in their imaginations to Siamese temples or passed an old man with a leaf broom, tidying a moss-carpeted speck of Japan. We ordered the same catalogues and, flipping through the pages, we hiked through passes with the girls, stopping every now and then to help them with their backpacks, placing our hands on their warm, moist shoulders and gazing off at papaya sunsets. We drank tea with them in a water pavilion. We did whatever we wanted. Cecilia hadn’t died. She was a bride in Calcutta. The only way we could feel close to the girls was through these impossible trips which have scarred us forever, making us happier with dreams than wives.”

Besides staring through windows of moving vehicles (cars or 18th century carriages), bedrooms or large hotel rooms in Tokyo, Sofia’s leading ladies are constantly seen among sheets, pillows… in short: in the bed. That’s how we were first presented to Charlotte in Lost in Translation.

Marie Antoinette first appears as the dauphine of France, but when her story begins as a 14-year-old girl in Austria, she’s still sleepy in bed, slightly awaken by her puppy.
April 11, 2008

>Meme: Underrated Movies


Three weeks ago I received a meme from fellow blogger Vinícius, about listing five films which I consider underrated. It should be films which I really love, but didn’t achieve great recognition neither by awards nor movie critics, which considered them only ok or average. I based my list on the Rotten Tomatoes average rating, so here it is:

The Village (2004) – RT Average Rating: 5.5/10

My favourite M. Night Shyamalan film wasn’t even well received by the average theaters audience. Why? Perhaps the fact the movie was advertized as a horror/thriller film from the beggining contributed to the mass of disappointment. Nevertheless, I knew Shyamalan always delivers much more than just scary thrilling scenes, and so The Village was a pleasant surprise to watch, besides presenting us to the talented and charismatic Bryce Dallas Howard.

The End of the Affair (1999) – RT Average Rating: 6.7/10

One of my favourite love stories ever told through the big screen was directed by Neil Jordan. The classic impossible love, this time stopped by a very peculiar cause: the faith in God. Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes are a reason enough to see this film, besides its beautiful soundtrack and cinematography, and of course, the script.

Marie Antoinette (2006) – RT Average Rating: 6/10

I guess MA’s biggest lovers are girls, from teenagers to 20-year old women. Among this group, Sofia Coppola‘s film was hugely accepted, whereas most of the critics (should I say 50-year-old men? Just kidding), hated it. It’s indeed a movie to love or to hate, no matter if you’re male or female and how old you are. Completely snobbed in last year’s Academy Awards (it only won the very well deserved award for best costume design, which was also its only nomination), this film deserved much more. While some say Sofia repeats and emulates herself film after film, I’d say she grows on the development of a single theme.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) – RT Average Rating: 6.6/10

I’d say this is one – if not the one – favourite film of mine directed by Steven Spielberg. The idea of the film was previously embraced by Stanley Kubrick himself (do I need to say genious?), and so its final result became two things in between, the mixture of the rational and the emotional, that in my opinion, only added positive elements in the story. If the film had only the Kubrickesque touch, I doubt I’d have cried by its end.

The Others (2001) – RT Average Rating: 7.2/10

Perhaps the talented chilenian director Alejandro Amenábar decided to pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock in this psychological and supernatural thriller that provokes as many discussions as goosebumps on the skin of those who see it. After all, Nicole Kidman has a sort of 1950s hairdo and her character is named Grace (like Miss Kelly, Hitch’s fav actress). An original plot, many intelligent hints, an unexpected twist and above all, a bitter and heart-breaking conclusion; nevertheless, it hasn’t yet been fully appreciated.
April 10, 2008

>If The Shining had been a romantic comedy (!), how would it be?


I found this video a while ago and thought it would be nice to share it here. It’s all about the way one sees things, after all… isn’t it?

April 10, 2008

>Lust, Caution (2007) directed by Ang Lee*


The year is 1942 and the place is Shangai, China. Mrs. Mak, the young wife of a business man, participates of a table game she is not really willing to play, but she pretends she’s interested while chatting to the house’s mistress and other women. A man walks in, he’s married to the most animated lady in the table, he lives in that place. He doesn’t seem to show interest as he coldly dialogues with his wife and the guests. However, Mrs. Mak’s eyes denounce that there must be something between these two antagonic figures – herself and the almost taciturn man. But now she’s in a rush, she goes out and enters in a cafe, where she orders in english and later, makes a mysterious phone call. Who is this sophisticated young woman, after all? The answer lies in the past, by the time she was only Wong Chia Chi, a shy freshman at university who used to cry in the movie theater while watching Cary Grant in dramatic/romantic roles. At university she’ll meet a troupe of young actors who uses stage plays as a way to inspire patriotism in the chinese audience (it’s WW2). In her first time on stage, Wong is a natural.

It won’t take long until her new friends tell her about a plan of assassinating a top japanese collaborator, and therefore, a nation’s traidor, and how they would like her to join them. Therefore, she adopts a false idendity, becoming an off stage performer as she masks herself with a seductive look that conceals her post-adolescent features. Her phisical disguise allows her to change among different personalities with confidence, something that won’t be sufficient in order to succeed the plan, ingenuously elaborated from the beggining to its end by everyone else. Amateur actress, amateur spy, one could say. Perhaps all her decisions, from the first meeting with the other young students to the final twist, lies again in her past, in the fact she never really knew genuine love. One offers it to her, but it’s nevertheless too late. The non-gratuitous sex scenes become also a key to comprehend the young woman’s personality, her motivations and attitudes, especially towards the end. And what to say on Ang Lee‘s direction? His camera angles reminded me of the ones from Wong Kar Wai sometimes, as he focuses in small details that hint to the feminine in various moments. The camera who alternates quickly and curiously among each woman’s face as they speak, the red polished nails that manipulate cards during a game, the lipstick mark after tasting coffee… Tang Wei is fragile, strong and subtitle in her first film role, as it should be. She never shakes in the presence of the veteran Tony Leung, whose character is a mystery I couldn’t yet decipher, after all, did he really love that woman?

*Text meant to be posted on march 22, days before the film festival started. Other films seen in march that deserve a few words and haven’t yet be commented: Into the Wild, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.