Bad Education

 

bad educationThe 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”

Mulholland Drive

mulholland drive

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.

In The Mood For Love

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Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai in 2000, this gorgeously seductive film is set in Hong Kong in 1962. Two married couples move into apartments next door to each other on the same day. Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung) and Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung) are often left alone and so build up a friendship before realising that their spouses are having an affair, out of this deception their own friendship grows.

In the crowded streets and cramped apartments, the camera lurks in doorways and slides around corners almost spying on them – going to get noodles has never been so glamorous! The colours are deep and murky with lots of shadows, coils of cigarette smoke and rain, rain, rain. A recurring cello theme follows them around and time is slowed down as they share an umbrella or brush passed each other capturing moments they would like to last forever.

The adulterous couple is never seen, sometimes we hear them in conversation but they are always off screen our empathy lies completely with Chow and Su.  As they spend more and more time together they grow closer but never anything more, “we will never be like them” says Su.  This unrequited love is teased in the soundtrack by Nat King Cole singing: ‘quizas, quizas, quizas’ Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps?

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Before Sunrise and Before Sunset

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Before Sunrise (1995) was directed by Richard Linklater and co-written with Kim Krizan.   American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy) meet on a train going to Vienna.  They start talking and before long, engrossed in conversation, realise they’ve arrived in Vienna and Jesse must leave to catch his flight back home the next day.  On a hunch he asks Celine to get off the train with him and spend the day in Vienna. She does, and there we have it. Two early twentysomethings  talking, while they explore Vienna, closely followed by a companionable camera. Continue reading “Before Sunrise and Before Sunset”

Farewell Leicester Square

farewell leicester sq

Quite by chance the book I read for my TBR challenge and the film I watched for my TBW challenge shared a subject – cinema. Farewell Leicester Square, written by Betty Miller in 1935 and Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore in 1988, are both about young boys growing up in the early days of cinema and desperate to be a part of it. They both leave their home towns, only to return years later, as successful directors, when they hear about the death of a loved one. So I thought they could share a post!

cinema paradiso 2 Continue reading “Farewell Leicester Square”

Withnail & I

withnail and IThis has such a cult following, it’s always included in lists of best British films, and best comedies, it spawned a drinking game (matching Withnail drink for drink) and it’s quoted endlessly. My copy of the dvd came stuck to a Sunday newspaper as part of a ’50 films you must see’ promotion, so after years of looking at the cover I thought it was time to watch.

Written and directed by Bruce Robinson in 1987, it’s the loosely autobiographical tale of two unemployed actors sharing a squalid London flat in 1969, drowning their sorrows in booze, cigarettes and lighter fluid!. Richard E. Grant plays the flamboyant, alcoholic Withnail and Paul McGann is the contemplative I.  Fed up with their lives in London they decide to ask Withnail’s eccentric Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) if they can borrow his cottage in deepest Cumbria for a holiday, and so set off for the week. Joined later (and as a surprise) by the melodramatic aesthete that is Uncle Monty. Continue reading “Withnail & I”

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

umbrellas of cherbourgWhat comes first in this 1964 film from the French New Wave director Jacques Demy, the colours or the music?

Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve)is a seventeen year old who works in her widowed mothers umbrella shop and is passionately in love with twenty year old car mechanic Guy (Nino Castelnuovo). Filmed on location in Cherbourg, their romance is marred by gritty reality – an unplanned pregnancy, parental pressure and a two year draft to the Algerian War. But this urban reality is set against the most glorious kaleidoscopic colour palette.  Every scene is saturated in supercolour. Continue reading “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”

Late Spring

late spring 1This beautiful film by Yasujiro Ozu was made in 1949 and stars Chishu Ryu as Professor Shukichi Somiya and Setsuko Hara as his daughter Noriko. It’s essentially a domestic story about a child’s relationship with their widowed parent.

The season in the title refers to Noriko’s age. If she doesn’t get married now, Noriko’s aunt tells her father, she will be alone for the rest of her life. The scenes are set so gently and quietly; time and space used to establish the routine and serenity of the household, neither father or daughter wants their lives to change. Continue reading “Late Spring”

Double Indemnity

double indemnityWhen a signature means you’re a dead pigeon and murder smells of honeysuckle you know you’re watching classic film noir!

Released in 1944, Double Indemnity is based on the book of the same name by James M Cain, it’s directed by Billy Wilder and the screenplay is by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder.

Set in 1938, the story is told in a series of flashbacks by Walter Neff, (Fred MacMurray)as he speaks into a dictaphone. An insurance salesman, Neff pays a routine call on Mr. Dietrichson to let him know his policy is due for renewal. But instead of meeting Mr. Dietrichson he meets his wife Phyllis.  Barbara Stanwyck plays the quintessential femme fatale, desirable but dangerous she uses her feminine wiles to manipulate everybody, but mostly Walter Neff. Continue reading “Double Indemnity”

Citizen Kane

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The third film in my To be Watched challenge brings me to probably the most famous and critically acclaimed film I had never seen. Produced, directed, written and starring Orson Welles, Citizen Kane always seems to be voted number 1 in best film lists.

In 1871 at his parents’ boarding house, 8 year old Charles Foster Kane is playing with his sledge in the snow.  His parents are arranging for him to go and live with financier Walter Thatcher, so that he can have a proper education.   From a boy with a humble start he builds a newspaper empire.  The film opens with the elderly Kane on his deathbed at his palatial estate Xanadu.  ‘Rosebud’ is his final word.  A mystery drama unfolds as a reporter pieces together the events of his life through a series of flashbacks and interviews and tries to discover the meaning of ‘Rosebud’.

Continue reading “Citizen Kane”