Archive | movies

Sea Fury (Cy Endfield, 1958)

Most of my summers have been spent in L’Estartit (Girona), where I learnt how to swim, how to make friends in a foreign language, how to survive on a diet of coco pops and alcopops and that Malibu mixed with milk is not actually a nice drink. Before the tourism boom of the 1960s, L’Estartit was a tiny fishing town. The L’Estartit that I knew, however, was the one of British pub quizzes, Dutch teenagers, foam parties, and thong vending machines. I used to be mesmerised by the latter and even purchased one at the age of 9 only to “ewww” and “ahhhh” at it for about five seconds before someone threw it away. Another souvenir I purchased at the time was a squeaky monkey which let out a massive penis when squeezed. Now that I think about it, maybe it was a priest and not a monkey, or maybe both. Nice Catholic education there, mum and dad.

Anyway, I have always loved trying to imagine what this little coastal town looked like before the buzzing neon signs, decaying nightclubs and drunk Brits. The other day, quite by coincidence, I came across this gem of a film which was filmed there in 1958, before tourism swallowed up the coast. In it you can see what the town looked like before it even had streets, back when people spent their time making fishing nets on the beach, before anybody tried to sell you dodgy coke. Sea Fury (Cy Endfield, 1958) is available on youtube. It’s not even a good film, and Luciana Paluzzi’s Spanish accent is hilarious, but the views of L’Estartit are magnificent.

0

Alice in Wonderland (1903)

 

Yesterday I came across this 1903 version of Alice in Wonderland and I find it truly fascinating. I have to admit that I don’t watch many silent films because I mostly find them boring and have to watch them in several sittings (if any of my professors are reading this, I’m sorry, but it’s true), but when I do I am always blown away by how quickly the conventions of narrative film evolved and how so many techniques used to tell a story through moving images have remained in use for an entire century regardless of all the technological advances. I mean, my great-grandmother was a KID when this was made. Amazing.
You should give the video a go, it’ll only steal 8 minutes of your precious time.

 

 

 

11

I wouldn’t mind living in The King’s Speech

I know I’m a bit late here, but I had totally forgotten to post about this film. I watched The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010) when it came out in my failed attempt to watch every film nominated for an Academy Award and it left me wanting a time machine (and a job in London, some money, etc.) so I could live in this house. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a house to decorate (a complete luxury nowadays) and want to try this look, here are some similar wallpapers from Retrovilla and Farrow & Ball
3

The Executioner (Luis García Berlanga, 1963)

I watched The Executioner (Luis García Berlanga, 1963) for the first time last weekend. It’s amazing how clueless I am when it comes to Spanish cinema. Set in 1960s Spain, during the last part of Franco’s dictatorship, the film shows a country that appears to be going through a metamorphoses. The executioner’s daughter, who has trouble to find a husband due to her father’s job, hooks up with a gravedigger, who has the same problem. Everything appears to be going fine in this morbid love story until they learn that, because the executioner is retiring, they are going to lose their flat. With a baby on the way, the only option left for them is to continue the family tradition in order to keep the flat, and so the gravedigger reluctantly becomes the new executioner in hopes that he will never have to kill anybody. And so the call for his first execution comes and the whole family travel to Mallorca, allowing us to see the peak of Spain’s development as a major tourist destination and the blatant contrast between the modern foreigners who holiday abroad and the bleak lives of Spanish people, who want to go abroad in search of a better life. The film successfully exposes the contradictions of Franco’s Spain and makes a statement against death penalty without losing for a second its entertaining black humour. Highly recommended.
And you know what else is great about this film? The title sequence. Please don’t miss the music that goes with it.
1

Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959)

I took Elizabeth Taylor’s death as an excuse to revisit some of her films last weekend. Some of them were mediocre at best, but this one is high up there with the great ones. Just look at this pair of ladies.

Are you more of a Katharine Hepburn person or a Liz Taylor one? 
I love Elizabeth, but my heart’s definitely with Katharine.
0

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

I knew today was going to be a bad day as soon as I read Elizabeth Taylor is dead. The photo above is the first I remember seeing of hers. I was 7 years old at the time and would often spend the afternoon at the shop where my mother worked, reading gossip magazines like a middle-aged lady, living the life. I remember thinking this image was very strange. Who was this old, eccentric-looking woman? What was up with her appearance? Why were her eyes so light and her hair and body so brown? Wasn’t she a bit old to get married? Why did the husband have a mullet and look like the East German footballers in my Italy’90 sticker album? What the hell was Michael Jackson doing there? These and other life-changing questions crossed my innocent mind, and I thought Elizabeth Taylor was a very very weird grandma.

And then I watched Little Women (the 1949 version) with my mother and she told me that the nice looking girl was the weird, scary-looking woman from the magazines. My mind was blown and I forgave the strange woman for looking so strange because she was in one of my favourite films, and that was like, really cool.

once divine, always divine

 

It’s a shame that many people my age only know her as wife of many, friend of Michael Jackson and voice of Maggie Simpson. Ms Taylor truly was one of the greatest (and most beautiful). Don’t believe me? Have a look at this article with clips of her best roles, then come back to this post and thank me. Now let me show you Elizabeth at her best.
Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor, the best looking couple I’ve ever seen on screen.
Photo from the Hudson Archive/Getty Images via life.com
Photo from the Hudson Archive/Getty Images via life.com
Photo by Frank Worth, via Life.com
7

It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2010)

I sort of wanted to love this film. A side of me wanted to experience some sort of epiphany while watching it, a moment of revelation, a special connection between me and the protagonist, a moment of thinking “wow, I feel just like that“, or something along those lines. But I guess that sort of thing simply doesn’t happen when you’re 27 and watching a film made with a teenage audience in mind. So the other side of me wanted to hate this film. I wanted to hate it because it almost makes mental illness seem appealing, like when you’re in school and skip mass to hide in the toilets and smoke cigarettes and talk about boys thinking you’re oh-so-mature. I wanted to hate it because most of the characters were simply sketches of people with slightly odd behaviour. I wanted to hate it because the moment of looking for psychological help appears to be shockingly easy for a 16-year-old virgin when it is actually a complicated moment for anybody going through a hard time.

But I didn’t hate it. In fact, I quite liked it. With all the stigma and false stereotypes surrounding mental illness, I think it’s positive to find a teenage character suffering from depression who is not a complete nutcase or a kid from an extremely unprivileged background. The protagonist has no real reason to feel depressed, but he is. And that is just the way it works for a lot of people.

“Sometimes I wish I had an easy answer to why I’m depressed. That my father beat me or I was sexually abused, but my problems are less dramatic than that. Like my dad always asks the wrong questions (…) and my friends sometimes look at me like I’m from another planet. And I’m obsessed with this girl, who happens to be going out with my best friend. So, is there any one thing that made me wanna jump off a bridge? No. Nothing unusual.”

When you’re depressed sometimes you might have the worst day because a stranger bumped into you in the street and didn’t apologise, then you didn’t have change to pay for the bus fare and had to walk home and, once you got there, your computer wouldn’t start up and, when you did, it was to an empty inbox. They are normal irrelevant things that can happen to every one, but when you’re not okay you dwell upon them until they become extraordinary.
I also liked the way art is used as therapy and how Craig starts compulsively drawing maps because it keeps his mind off things. I found this to be very real and, in my experience, one of the best types of therapy.
It’s Sort of a Funny Story might seem saccharine, unrealistic and fairy tale-like. Boy has problem. Boy meets father figure who helps him grow. Boy meets damaged-but-hot girl who falls for him. Boy succeeds, gets the girl and moves on. But even though the happy ending is rather forced and cliched and the situation is depicted in an extremely idealised way, the protagonist himself states that things are not as easy as they’re made out to be.
“Okay, I know you’re thinking, ‘What is this? Kid spends a few days in the hospital and all his problems are cured?’ But I’m not. I know I’m not. I can tell this is just the beginning. I still need to face my homework, my school, my friends. My dad. But the difference between today and last Saturday is that for the first time in a while, I can look forward to the things I want to do in my life.”

Yes, the things he proceeds to enumerate are so cheesy that I’ve decided not to include them, but I think this is a pretty good way of explaining recovery from depression in the sense that it doesn’t happen overnight, that it is not going to be solved just by taking a couple of pills and that it involves a lot of strength to focus on the small things that make life worth living, even if they are vomit-inducing.
3

Blue Valentine

I watched Blue Valentine last week and really, really enjoyed it. The acting was phenomenal and the representation of the highs and lows of a romantic relationship was spot on. What moved me the most, however, was this scene (excuse the bad screencaps, I watched it online)

Dean (Ryan Gosling) helps an old man move into a home. Upon entering the room he realises that this man’s whole life can’t fit into a tiny room and does his best to make it look like home to him. He rearranges the furniture, displays his matchbox collection on the wall, puts up his wedding photos, etc. Meanwhile his boss keeps on telling him to hurry up, but Dean really wants to finish his job. The old man, looking slightly unsettled, gives Dean a thankful look at almost had me in tears.
I promise I am not menstruating, but I’ve spent a lot of time alone with my grandma since my grandpa died, and we’ve spent hours (literally hours) discussing the pros and cons of her going into a home. I know what her house and her things, her memories, mean to her. It’s come to a point where her life is like a picture made up of all the things she surrounds herself with. I guess that’s what made me connect with this scene in such a strong way.
1

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)

What I liked about Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere
▪ Stephen Dorff is pretty cute and I had forgotten he existed.
▪ The symmetry between the beginning and ending (the film begins and ends with the protagonist on the road).
▪ The resemblance between the choreography and outfits of the strippers and those of the protagonist’s daughter when she goes ice skating.
▪ Stephen Dorff spotting a Black Flag t-shirt.
▪ The development of the relationship between father and daughter.
▪ Elle Fanning (and her outfits).
As you can see some of the things I liked about this film were important and others were very superficial. I was looking forward to seeing it, but I can’t help feeling slightly disappointed. I like the main elements of the film, but I got bored watching it at times. I wish there had been more of an emphasis on the character of the daughter. Maybe it’s a grower, but for now 5.5/10 is all it gets.

7

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes