France, Uncategorized

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013), Abdellatif Kechiche

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Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Colour is a “romantic, coming to age drama” set in France.  And “romantic coming to age” means, discovering your sexuality and a real life lesbian relationship.

The movie centers around Adèle, a highschool student who hangs out with the usual crowd of girls who gossip and talk about relationships constantly. They tease her about this one guy who obviously likes her to bits, and being young and able,  she eventually takes the bite.

They date and have sex. Doing their first date, she’s walking through a square and notices a woman with short, blue hair. This was the moment she falls in love, love at first sight! But then it just ends right there. The date continues and she eventually gets in bed with the guy.  The sex wasn’t anything spectacular and she ends the relationship shortly after.  As a Canadian looking into France, I feel like that was a very french thing to do for a 18 year old, regarding sex. Mature, but very french.

Since she’s had that love at first sight moment, the idea of liking women is a constant in her mind. Little situations following it leads her to eventually going to a gay bar with a friend. She slowly slips away to the lesbian section. You can feel that she was in this new exciting environment. She experiences strong, dominant advances by some of the ladies,  with the blue haired gal, Emma- eventually saving her. This starts their relationship.

What I really liked about this film was how the director really demonstrated and used time to the story’s advantage. It wasn’t all in a week or mysterious time frame. It was days, months, years. You felt involved.

I also enjoyed the choice of characters and how down to earth Adèle was. I liked her messy hair, I liked how naive, but confident she was. I guess in a sense, that I wish I could have been there at 18.

You also got a good story of a person discovering her sexuality and her self. Something which will always be a learning process for everyone, but it was special in the film to watch it happen. I think it was the reason it won the “Palme D’Or” at the Cannes.

I recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good, solid love story to watch.  It’s not a fairy tale, but you get great sex scenes and a real life ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Korean, Uncategorized

Oldboy (2003), Park Chan-Wook

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Oldboy is the second of a three part set called “The Vengeance” directed by Park Chan-Wook.  Considered a Mystery-Thriller, you definitely had both.

The story follows Oh Dae-su, who ends ups being imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years on the night of his daughters birthday. He’s stolen from a phone booth, making the birthday call on a rainy night. At no point during those 15 years, he knew what was going on. It was day after day of him creating a relationship with his television, of him trying to kill himself, of him trying to escape.

One sunny day, he’s released. He still doesn’t know what’s going on, and he’s on a rooftop. It’s confusion and a suitcase. He eventually finds himself on the ground and finds sushi. While sitting down for his first liberated meal, he receives a message from his captor. He immediately passes out. This is the scene where you are introduced to “Mi-do” the sushi chef of this specific establishment.

Mi-do takes Oh Dae-su to her home, and cares for him until he wakes up. She becomes his partner in crime (after a few glitches and problems) and helps him find his missing daughter (or at least, what became of her). They found out she was adopted to a Swedish couple. Scenes that follow this is him remembering a specific pot-sticker he ate while held captive. Him and Mi-do tries ever pot-sticker in town until they find what they are looking for.

It leads them the hotel. He tortures the warden, learning that Oh Dae-su was held captive for talking too much. All this eventually leads him to discovering his captor, a very rich man by the name of Woo-jin Lee. He gives Oh Dae-su an ultimatum that becomes the rest of the film. Ending rather dramatically.

I really enjoyed this film. You noticed a specific shooting style, and the plot line was solid. You had a slow build up and eventually all of your questions were answered. I liked the original story too, it wasn’t too cookie-cutter. You had something original and fresh to watch. I was worried about how … I guess scary it was going to be. It wasn’t, if anyone is wondering.

I don’t really end up watching too many movies set on revenge (Wuthering Heights, 1991- was the last one I can remember), but it’s something I need to start thinking about. Francis Bacon once called it “wild justice”. Which is a fair definition in my heart, or at least “personal justice”.

I think my favorite part was the ending. The scene with the snow was perfect (The picture in this specific blog post is from said scene). I’m partial with anything snow, and I think it touched a spot for me.

I recommend this movie to anyone. As a friend said, this movie isn’t meant for a spa day. So don’t go expecting something touchy-feely. It’s pretty real, in an unfortunate way.

 

 

 

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Iran, Middle East, Uncategorized

About Elly (2009), Asghar Farhadi

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For some reason I had a really hard time finding and watching this movie. The first time I had it, it unfortunately had french subtitles and I didn’t feel like forcing myself watch it as such. Weeks passed and I took the quest upon myself, finding it eventually online at this here.

The film focuses on a weekend trip out to the beach. Three families, a recently divorced man who has just returned from Germany and a daughters kindergarten teacher (Elly) are the main set of characters.  They are excited and set for 3 days of relaxing.

They arrive at their usual cottage, only to know that the owners of it are using it for the weekend. They agree to take a run-down, grimy one to replace their lack of shelter for the weekend. It’s right on the beach. It’s neat to see that their are aspects of modern western culture with the first couple scenes down by beach (playing volleyball for instance) but then you are reminded how different we are when they agree to separate the woman and children in one room and the men in the other for sleeping arrangements. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s good to be reminded.

Sepideh, the one who brought Elly for the weekend trip, had alternative match making plans. She plans to introduce her to Ahmad (the recently divorced man). She lied to the group woman in charge that they’re married (because of law forbidding unmarried couples to travel together in Iran). Later in the movie we find out that she had lied about a couple other things. (OH nooo; drama).

Problems then arise on the second day when Elly has planned to go home. She’s lied to her mother about being with colleagues and needs to get back a.s.a.p. She’s trying to be the good girl here, but Sipedeh is making it difficult.

Of course, Sepideh can’t have this. She still has been planning for Admed to impress Elly and it can’t end so soon. She hides Elly’s bag in a cupboard, and gives the job of looking after the children while the rest of the women go into town. The children are near the water and Elly is flying a kite. The scenes leading up to the major drama is Elly flying a kite. It ends just right there.

The films considered a disturbing-edgy drama. I don’t really know why they consider it disturbing (there wasn’t anything too crazy), but it was like an intense mystery. Obviously at the end of the movie, you’re left wondering what happened, but more of in a “hmm, oh well” sort of way. I mean, if that makes any sense.

I recommend this movie on a cultural level,  but if you’re looking for an intense-edgy drama- no way.

Fun fact, the actress who plays Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani) also plays the main lady in “The Patience Stone“.

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Lebanon, Middle East, Uncategorized

Caramel (2007), Nadine Labaki

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I watched this movie ages ago. It was right after seeing the film West Beirut and having this huge urge to learn more about Lebanon through film, Nadine Labaki came up. I probably chose very poorly in regard to relevant film choices, but regardless of what I’ve watched so far, I’ve enjoyed immensely.

It’s a romantic-comedy. Focusing on the lives of five women and their troubles whether with aging, with personal relationships and discovery of personal sexuality. I make it sound more serious then the film actually is.  It’s very light hearted and to a western viewer, apparently very true to a sense of living in that part of the world.

Layale, played by Nadine Labaki-  works in a beauty salon in Beirut alongside two others, Nisrine and Rima. For theses three, relationships reign over their characters for the entirety of the film. For Layale, it was a dead end relationship with a married man with a mustache to boot. Nisrine is set to marry into a very conservative family. and she’s not a virgin anymore (an obvious  problem) and last but not least, Rima is understanding her sexuality and falls for a pretty costumer that enters the beauty salon on her fated day. Two other characters, Jamale/ a wanna be actress but is unfortunately aging, and Rose/ the already aged keeper of her sister and who finds her first true love, round out the stories that keep this film together.

I really enjoyed this film. It was heartwarming and you had something different from your usual western romances. The characters were different, but the stories were the same. Chances are that would be a good theme for life among humans.

Another thing to add is considering Lebanon is a very political part of the world- there was no hint whatsoever of any political stance. Keeping solely to the stories of the characters at that current moment.

It’s good, I recommend it.

 

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France, Uncategorized

Micmacs à tire-larigot (2009), Jean-Pierre Jeunet

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The one and only reason I watched Micmacs was because I figured out it was directed by the same person who directed Amélie, another beautifully composed film. You had the same lighting, the same creativeness that flows evenly through. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed this film. If I had to think of a color to associate it with Micmacs, it would be emerald green. Weird huh?

The film centers around the Bazil. A funny looking character, with an unfortunate moment that shapes his upbringing- his father was killed trying to defuse a landmine. Take this years later, and you have Bazil working at a video rental store. It’s night time, he hears guns and roaring engines speed past the little shop, he steps out and gets shot in the head by a stray bullet.

He heals, and returns to a job where he has been replaced. This leaves him homeless and he wonders the streets of Paris for two months until a nice man by the name of Slammer finds him and adopts him. He takes Bazil back to his home, which is in a carved out area of the local garbage dump. He’s introduced to a gang of scavengers and that’s where his new life begins. Through events, he discovers that a local arms factory was connected to the death of his father and the bullet that shot into him, and he has a plan shut them down. His new family helps too.

I loved this movie for it’s characters, the creativeness and the strong story line. I also like what the french consider “comedy” and I plan to find more titles to explore it further. It’s light and heavy at the same time, plus you feel good after watching it. How could that not be more of a recommendation?

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Iran, Uncategorized

Circumstance (2011), Maryam Keshavarz

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Circumstance is something sort of a different in the world of Iranian cinema, as it explores young sexuality/homosexuality in modern Iran, among other subjects. It has a girly feel too, even though there are definite male dominating characters.

The story centers around two girls, Atefeh (c0mes from a wealthy family, and is categorized as the rebellious one) and Shireen (her best friend, and orphaned by executed anti-government intellectuals ).  Scenes of parties, drugs, dressing fairly hip, but still having to cover their heads and hiding from parents are shown, with the eventual love store between them being introduced. Only to be disturbed when Atefeh’s brother, Mehran moves back home.

He moves back home to find solitude, escaping the drug addict he use to be. He’s also the dark, stormy and handsome type who also plays the piano. He eventually returns to the mosque to find balance in his life, but it leads him into a drastic life of Islamic fundamentalism. At worst, he starts to become obsessed with Shireen. The film continues on, with drama ending it all.

Maryam Keshavarz is an American educated director, but she pulls huge influences from her experiences in Iran/The United States. I really enjoyed the fact that the scenes were relatable in one sense or another for me, a young person living the western ways. I had an opinion, but I definitely could relate to the way they were thinking.

If you’re into female powered movies, I highly recommend this. If you’re into learning about Iranian culture (in some sense), I recommend this. If you just want a good drama- watch it.

 

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American, Uncategorized

Being John Malkovich (1999), Spike Jonze

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I didn’t initially know what I was getting into when I started watching this movie. I can’t remember why I chose it.  But I was pleasantly surprised, the movie wasn’t a dud in any sense of the word. I was also surprised to have Cameron Diaz in the film- so I didn’t know what I was expecting

Categorized a Fantasy- Comedy, so  you know you’re into something special. The film centers around a man named Craig Schwartz, an unemployed puppeteer.    He lives with eccentric animal loving girlfriend (Cameron Diaz) in a small New York apartment. Craig eventually finds a job as an office clerk on the 7 and a half floor of the Mertine Flemmer Building.  Which is silly, because during the film you have the cast walking around hunched over, while doing their usual office duties.

He eventually finds a secret passage way behind a printer that leads to the inside head of John Malkovich, the rest is history.

First off, I am a sucker for New York films. Something about them gives me a weird vibe starting in the middle pit of my stomach. But let me assure you that’s it is a good vibe.  That being said, this movie was bizarre and it kept me wanting to see what was going to happen next, it was a mixture of the filming style, and the plot line that kept me enjoying- though I’d be the first to admit that there were moments that I felt were a bit dry.

Overall, interesting film and I recommend it to any watcher wanting something different.

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