He is undoubtedly the most perplexing man in existence. And always an inspiration.
He is undoubtedly the most perplexing man in existence. And always an inspiration.
Having trouble settling on something? Maybe these will help.
CUTIE AND THE BOXER (2013)
Directed by Zachary Heinzerling
Visually stunning. Inspiring. Funny. Genuine.
FRANCES HA (2012)
Directed by Noah Baumbach
I had a fantastic time watching this film. It had a realistic depth and an honest ode to city life that I haven’t seen since Woody Allen’s heyday. I highly recommend it because we have all been Frances Ha. Some of us still are.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)
Directed by Brian Singer (USC alum woo fight on trojans)
Although I saw this back in December, I was absolutely ecstatic to see that Singer’s classic is streamable. I don’t care who you are, see this film. That’s all I’m going to say.
Directed by Richard Ayoade
This film gave me a nostalgia for something I’m not even sure I have experienced. After this one, I’m considering take a 2 month hiatus and moving to Wales. You’ll find yourself with an accent, a warmed heart, and a newfangled love for Ben Stiller (producer) by the time the credits roll.
THE APARTMENT (1960)
Directed by Billy Wilder
If you believe old movies aren’t your fancy, try this one. It is dark, surprising, and utterly lovely. You won’t regret it.
I recommend this article to all of you film school friends. I know I took a lot from it.
The country’s movie theaters are thinking that a discount ticket price at least one weekday could attract more moviegoers.
It’s been a bad week.
But it reached all new depths of tragedy when I got the news that The Little Mermaid is finally being adapted to a live action film.
The Hans Christian Anderson tale is something I have dreamt to bring to the big screen ever since I was gifted the fairy tale collection sometime around six or seven years old.
Sofia Coppola beat me to it.
As a female filmmaker, I have respect for Sofia. I think she has pushed boundaries and has successfully been the most well known female director of our generation. She has an enchanting aesthetic that thrives in films like The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and Lost in Translation, and I think she has done a lot for experimental and independent filmmaking.
But with the recent travesty that was The Bling Ring, I’m beginning to wonder if the whimsical director’s auteur is shifting in a direction more focused on the business than the art.
Although I am bitter that my script will continue gathering dust, I am anxious to see if she can do justice to the Anderson tale and put me at ease.
Here are the reasons it could be a success:
1. Sofia is not afraid to go dark. She’s gone there with the Virgin Suicides, and she is surely not going to sugar coat this dark tale in the pinks and pastels of Marie Antoinette.
2. Regardless of how much she sticks to the script, there will be enormous production costs. She’s got a lot of money behind her (daddy Coppola, Universal etc).
3. Coppola’s films rebel against a world that dictates the rules for women and then punishes them for playing by them. Anderson’s 1836 tale is a cruel cautionary fable for young women who forsake their physical and emotional identities for the fantasy of “true love.” She can really run with this theme.
4. With our fancy computers nowadays, creating an underwater film doesn’t seem as daunting as it would even a decade ago. Luckily, Sofia hasn’t shown much of a liking to computer generated imagery so it won’t take a Tim Burton turn like the recent fairytale adaptations of Alice in Wonderland, Oz: The Great and Powerful, or Malificent. Coppola’s visual storytelling is more understated such as unusual lighting, costuming, and filtering. If the acting and story structure is up to par, it could be stunning.
The major concern:
Sofia has stopped taking risks. She continually casts actors that continue to bring no dynamic facets to the role, but have a promised fan following.
It has yet to be confirmed, but Emma Watson is currently being auditioned for the role of the mermaid.
Case and point.
What do you guys think?
(Original copies of these photographs are not mine, I just do the silly photoshopping)
It was a very chilly day in New York City. Despite the fun of pulling out that winter coat I have been waiting years to wear, a night in a cozy theatre in the Village was time well spent.
The Angelika Film Center had an array of indie flicks playing, mostly foreign along with brand new releases, so new that my hometown of Hollywood CA failed to keep me up to date.
But I suppose that’s exactly the point. The releases often fall on deaf ears because we are too often too caught up in the loudness of Hollywood. The scandals, the cool new computer graphics, the violence, the sex, and the media hype are far too blaring and hopeless to shout over.
Thus, an East Village theatre was a lovely way to hand the mic over to the indies. And thank goodness, I have been able to find that there still are films that compensate for what we dreadfully throw up on a screen and must coin as “entertainment” for its undeniable neglectfulness of “art.”
I noticed a poster in the corner for an Indian film entitled The Lunchbox. Above the charming photograph of grown up Pi (Life of Pi) and the stunning Nimrat Kaur was “THE LUNCHBOX: THE BOLLYWOOD ANOMALY THAT CAME TO AMERICA.”
As a Bollywood enthusiast, and individual with many years of musical theatre up my sleeve (as much as I hate to admit that I was that kid), it was hardly a toss up. Even though there was an 8:00pm showing of Nymphomaniac (sorry Shia, you’re not famous enough for me anymore).
On one hand we have the “diva” that is Bollywood cinema, with its vivacious colors, blaring ensemble numbers, and charisma. On the other we have The Lunchbox, telling a more understated tale of two unsuspecting lovers in a muted and rather melancholy Mumbai. The narrative’s “color” derives in the simple handwritten letters in a lunchbox.
Ila’s character represents the cultural shift in India. While she is garnished with elaborate traditional Indian clothes, playing housewife for her disinterested husband, and watching over her mysterious “auntie, she is also depicted as unfulfilled and desiring a life outside of the conventional genderal roles of her culture. Uh oh…I said gender. Is she going there you ask? Yes, reader, I …
HATE TO BRING UP THE GENDER THING
Ila’s relationship with her mother is an interesting facet to the storyline, and an integral part of understanding her perception of love, and the conventions of marriage and motherhood. Her mother’s stagnated life and autocratic relationship with Ila’s father is her grim reminder that she is stuck in a traditional India that is slowly (but surely) transitioning in its genderal roles. Ila desires to see horizons beyond the dirty Mumbai window she sits behind, wishing away the mundane and watching and waiting for something more. (One reason the last shot is so powerful).
In the meantime, cooking is her nirvana. Ila glows when she is standing above a bubbling pot of spices. Like any mother, she is paranoid of her daughters safety, to the point where she fears change and growing older. This part of the narrative parallels with Khan and his lonely “scrooge” ways over bittersweet feelings toward retirement. Poignantly, it is Ila’s delicious food and Khan’s career that align the two. It is the loneliness and fear of “missing out” that ultimately cripples them in their relationships, but simultaneously allows for growth
This film was romantic, quirky, and enlightening. It tells a simple story with great importance. It has big themes executed with restraint and elegance. Expect to cry, you may laugh, and you will definitely crave some masala.
The last four minutes have become four days. I am fully indazed by Ritesh Batra’s realistic tale and portrait of Mumbai, painted with themes of true love and oppression, family and fate. This film is revolutionary in it’s smallness. Batra is simply inviting us all to sit, drown out the noise of Mumbai (or New York City) and have lunch. It just goes to show that some revelations start with exactly that.
“I’ve discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath.”
Los Angeles is the only place with more stars than its sky. Some would say that is the beauty of the city. Many say it is the place for dreamers. David Lynch takes into the mind of a beautiful dreamer…and makes us look a little bit closer. Mulholland Drive is an anthill, a maze of many beautifully deranged dreamers.
Mulholland Drive delves into the subconscious mind of Hollywood wannabe, Diane Selwyn, who is suffering from suicidal depression after hiring a hitman to end a spurned romance with starlet, Camilla Rhoades. The story is predominantly carried by the plot’s episodic structure and unique temporal order, told through a mixture of dreams, delusions, and reality. Lynch utilizes character subplots and Freudian themes as a symbolic language that speaks volumes in revealing Diane Selwyn’s psyche and most horrifying of all, human nature, haunting the viewer even after the credits have rolled.
Similar to a dream, Lynch provides the viewer with a strong opening, and distinct close to the film. But just like the dreamer, it is not until the viewer has awakened, can they begin to string together the pieces between. Although the temporal order is non linear, (and at times seem to follow no order at all), It is clearly Lynch’s intension to push the viewer blindly from room to room, from one subplot to the next. Therefore the nonlinear structure utilized in Mulholland Drive was wisely implemented to gives the viewer a disorienting experience, as it is not our subconscious. The only way to solve the middle portion of the film is to have a clear understanding of the opening.
Lynch shows us our character’s two worlds in the first two minutes of the film. First we are exposed to Diane’s real world; or at least a fragment of the world she came from. We see a flashback of a dazzling Naomi Watts, glamorously accepting an award at a Jitterbug contest. Two loving family members stand beside her. This is Diane Selwyn’s solace. This is the memory she clings to throughout the film. It is introduced as her innocence, the root of her passion for achievement and accomplishment.
Lynch then fades to a dark winding road, pierced only with the red taillights of a limousine. This is Diane’s second world, a dream world, driven by her subconscious motives and murderous guilt. The camera then pans upward, revealing an ominously lit street sign of the infamous winding road of Mulholland Drive. Then a glamorous woman is revealed in the backseat. Lynch then wants the viewer to assume that the woman is star, riding the winding paths to this “Mount Olympus” of Los Angeles, the pinnacle of fame and success. The ride is interrupted the moment another car turns the corner and the two collide, just moments after the limousine driver pulls out a gun on this glamorous star. This is a subconscious thought representing the interruption or obstacles hindering her from achievement, one of her major internal conflicts. This opening thus begins a journey up the treacherous cliffs and spiraling roads toward the illusion of fame. This is the coming journey that will send her spiraling into the deepest hells and darkest alleys of Los Angeles, and more importantly, those of her mind.
THE FREAKY SYMBOLISM
Lynch also relies on inanimate objects to depict psychological themes important to the plot. He gorgeously fastens Freudian themes of repression and symbolism throughout the second act (the dream) to explain Diane’s psychological reality. The theory of dream symbols is a Freudian element Lynch explores through Diane’s sexual desires and her romance with Camilla. The blue box that Betty and Rita desperately try to unlock has Freudian connotations relating to sexuality. It is said to symbolize the “vagina” or “womb.” This symbolism is an effective way to portray Diane’s frustration concerning her relationship with Camilla. Freud would argue that this is the evolutionary frustration of a woman’s inability to reproduce with another woman. Lynch might agree, but the primary intention is to illustrate the parallel between Diane and Camilla, and Betty and Rita. Betty (her innocence) and Rita (her lover), are trying to discover Rita’s identity and they believe the truth resides in the box. Diane believes that the box is Camilla, the woman she sexually identifies with most. She believes that if she can align her two personas (the innocence and sexuality) their love with prevail and her sexual desires will be fulfilled. In reality this is Diane’s refusal to accept the truth that Camilla is dead and nothing lives in the box but denial. Another Freudian symbol is introduced when Rita takes refuge in the empty house after the accident. Sigmund Freud claims that a house is an allegory for the psyche. When Rita enters Betty’s new home, this is Diane’s haunting memory of Camilla’s murder and their romance both entering her conscience. These Freudian theories and symbols are subtle, but important additions that embellish this character piece and allow the viewer to delve a bit deeper into Diane Selwyn’s tortured mind.
At this point, the viewer may become exhausted from the endless attempts to distinguish fantasy from reality and find an abstract meaning behind a preposterous number of characters, symbols, and locations interacting along an extremely shuffled timeline. Reality is finally differentiated from fantasy when the final scenes when Diane Selwyn is revealed as a strung out mess, in a hopeless state of depression. The flashback of the jitterbug competition takes on new meaning when the old couple is identified as some sort of demonic force that pushes her to suicide. Lynch took off what can be called the “blindfold of rationale” and the viewer can string together the pieces that at one time seemed to be mindlessly thrown at us. He cleverly opens with the close. The incidents and pieces of Diane’s story throughout the middle half finally come into perspective.
BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!?!
David Lynch desires his viewers to peer down their darkest alley, for the monsters off screen can be much more sinister than the ones on screen. The celluloid dreams can be just as sinister as the nightmares, and somewhere in the middle, fantasy and reality align. The characters painted in Diane’s subconscious are simply representative of the noise in her head. Smothered by her loud emotions, she struggles to blend the personas. Because of her failure to solve internal conflict through fantasy, her reality must end in tragedy. Diane Selwyn’s name will fall on deaf ears, like every dreamer who has never found their silver lining, or red carpet.
Check back on April 25th for next month’s freaky film!
An insightful look into the future and past of independent filmmaking.