Bad Education

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The last film in my 2018 To Be Watched challenge is Bad Education, written and directed by Pedro Almodovar. Released in 2004 the film is set in the late ’70’s, a time when Almodovar was a key figure in the counter cultural movement La Movida Madrileña, that signalled the emergence of a new Spanish identity, free from Franco’s oppression.

An aspiring actor Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), visits his old school friend Enrique (Fele Martinez), now a film producer, with a story he has written called ‘The Visit’. He asks Enrique to read it with a plan that he should play a leading character. ‘The visit’ is about their past in a Catholic boarding school.  The film is made and becomes a film within the film, but it also opens up layers of storytelling, about reality and impersonation, about rewriting the past, asking how much we edit our own stories in order to control them. The past and present leak into eachother, with Bernal playing different characters in different time frames and it becomes a thrilling mystery. Continue reading “Bad Education”

2019 TBR Pile Challenge

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Happily RoofBeamReader has announced the TBR Pile Challenge for another year! The aim is to read 12 books that have been gathering dust over the next 12 months.

 

 

My list in no particular order:

  1. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  2. Heat Wave by Penelope Lively
  3. The Lady and the Little Fox Fur by Violette Leduc
  4. The Beautiful summer by Cesare Pavese
  5. Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda
  6. The Green Road by Anne Enright
  7. Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  8. The Cherry Tree by Adrian Bell
  9. Silver Ley by Adrian Bell
  10. Young Anne by Dorothy Whipple
  11. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  12. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

And two alternates, just in case:

  1. The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook
  2. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

                     

All of these look like great reading to me. Gulliver’s Travels is a book I’ve always meant to read, but keep putting off and I really don’t understand why it’s taken me so long to get around to Birdsong!

Mulholland Drive

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I started watching this knowing nothing about it except that I liked David Lynch’s T.V. series Twin Peaks – big mistake! It all started well.   A brunette (Laura Harring) survives a car crash and stumbles through the night to an apartment, where she breaks in and takes a shower. Unable to remember who she is she sees a poster for a Rita Heyworth film and decides to call herself Rita.  A perfect blonde Betty (Naomi Watts) arrives in Hollywood and goes to the apartment which belongs to her aunt,  all Disney smiles and sweetness, she hardly wonders why there’s a strange women in her shower and starts to help Rita discover her identity. Thinking she might be Diane Selwyn, they track down an address for that name and find a corpse on the bed and a small box.  Betty, the hopeful actress gives an amazing audition for a film but the part goes to a women called Camilla Rhodes. The mysteries and curious characters (who is the cowboy?) are piling up but a constant feeling of menace and tension kept us on our seats. There comes an outing to Club Silencio where we’re told ‘nothing is as it seems’, and then a key was put into the blue box, the screen went black and we were swallowed up.

Now everyone has changed names.  Sweet Betty has become haunted, suicidal Diane, mulholland drive2Rita has become self-assured actress Camilla and all hopefulness has turned to despair. What is going on? What becomes clear(ish) is that we’ve been living with Betty’s fantasy – a vibrantly coloured world where she is a success as an actor and with the person she loves. Her reality of depression, jealousy and addiction in a film about innocence and corruption, love and loneliness, beauty and depravity is often seen as David Lynch’s perspective on the film industry.

Reams and reams have been written about the questions asked in Mulholland Drive and there seems to be as many answers.  It would have been useful to have had some of this information before I watched, so now I know what I’m getting myself into another viewing might make a lot more sense, although I don’t think the mystery will ever be solved.

Doctor Zhivago

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This wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought I was going to read a sweeping love story set against a backdrop of snow.

Instead I found the history of Russia in the first half of the 20th century, world wars, revolution, civil war and the political terror of the 1930’s told through the eyes of a doctor and poet.

But it was the plain, almost dispassionate style that surprised me the most. Writing in 1957 Pasternak describes the civil war vividly, but without sentiment. A sense of catastrophe and upheaval is always present, the characters come thick and fast, which gives a sense of the chaos and disorder but somehow Yuri Zhivago is detached, as if he’s watching events through a window and never really taking part. Continue reading “Doctor Zhivago”