Day twenty-two: The Salt of The Earth ( March, 31 - again)

Another rerun at the One Movie a Day dare. And another "must see again" movie.

Today was an special day. I got a rare company to the movies. My mother by heart, that is loosing her sight and has a difficult time moving by herself accepted my invitation to go to the movies see The Salt of the Earth, the documentary about Sebastião Salgado's work directed by Juliano Salgado and Wim Wenders and presented here at day nineteen.

The trip to the theater was slow and careful. But the journey with the images, comfortably seated in the front roll, was truelly overwhelming again. I'm not sure, I was amazed at the first time; however, I think that, already knowing what the movie was, my mind was left aside for the most of the film and my emotions took over pretty hard. It was like all my senses were lit and every image, sound, music, silence, dark screen took another meaning. It's not for nothing that I really apreciate seeing a movie more than one time.

The soundtrack goes side by side with the images, in a smart and sensible edditing, unusual for documentaries. And I waited till the last scene in the final credits, with the last note of the score to leave the movie theater. 

One afterthought: at one moment, the Salgado Father tells his grandson, in a recorded interview, that he had made money from logging at his farm. A land that got dried out with ongoing dry seasons - but, probably, with the deforestation also. I thought how Sebastião Salgado, the son, took all his inheritances - from his father, from the humanity, from the unfair trade by the economical system that he once was a part of - and turned the tide in a way to do all differently. I'm not turning him into a hero, with all this praising, but it is truelly admirable what he chose to do with his life, despite the hight cost of some of his choices.

At last, during the movie, came to my mind the preface writen by Geoff Dyer, one of my top five authors in life, to his book about jazz But Beautful. His goal at the book is to tell part of the american jazz through pictures from the related time. Some of the Salgado's pictures have such movement and are composed by many and many layers... so I remembered Dyer's words and the images that it evokes:


   Photographs sometimes work on you strangely and simply: at first glance you see things you subsequently discover are not there. Or rather, when you look again you notice things   you initially didn’t realize were there. In Milt Hinton’s photograph of Ben Webster, Red Allen, and Pee Wee Russell, for example, I thought that Allen’s foot was resting on the   chair in front of him, that Russell was actually drawing on his cigarette, that . . .

   The fact that it is not as you remember it is one of the strengths of Hinton’s photograph (or any other for that matter), for although it depicts only a split second the felt   duration of the picture extends several seconds either side of that frozen moment to include – or so it seems – what has just happened or is about to happen: Ben tilting back his  hat and blowing his nose, Red reaching over to take a cigarette from Pee Wee . . .

   Oil paintings leave even the Battle of Britain or Trafalgar strangely silent. Photography, on the other hand, can be as sensitive to sound as it is to light. Good photographs   are there to be listened to as well as looked at; the better the photograph, the more there is to hear. The best jazz photographs are those saturated in the sound of their subject. In Carol  Reiff’s photo of Chet Baker onstage at Birdland we hear not just the sound of the musicians as they are crowded into the small stage of the frame but the background chat and clinking glasses  of the nightclub. Similarly, in Hinton’s photo we hear the sound of Ben turning the pages of the paper, the rustle of cloth as Pee Wee crosses his legs. Had we the means to decipher them,  could we not go further still and use photographs like this to hear what was actually being said? Or even, since the best photos seem to extend beyond the moment they depict, what has just   been said, what is about to be said.
DYER, Geoff. Butt Beautifull. UK: Canongate, 1991/1996, p. 9/10.

The Salt of the Earth. Directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders.
With: Sebastião Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Lélia Winick Salgado, Wim Wenders.
Writers: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado ,  Wim Wenders , David Rosier and Camille Delafon.
France/Brazil/Italy, 2014, 110 min., Dolby Digital, Color/Black and White (Cinema).

PS: Today's fragment is a movie that, for me, is a truthful portrait of the modern world, if such a picture is possible. At this morning I saw the last part of Perfect Sense, 2011. With the perfect Eva Green and the beloved Ewan McGregor (that, by the way, is celebrating his 44th birthday this March, 31), the movie told me about humanity and the world in a way that meets my views about both. A must see movie, despite the horribly, lousy translated portuguese title (something like The senses of love... I imagine what someone, that is expecting a sugared romance from this name, feels when sees what is actually in front of him/her).

Day twenty-one: Insurgent (March, 30)

I went to the movie theater to watch the second installment in the Divergent series, Insurgent, without any great enthusiasm. I had to see it, but didn't expected much. 

The lack of expectation might be a good ingredient to cinema viewers, because I enjoyed the movie - it is good action entertainment, for sure. And I was surprised as well. 

The thing is, the producers changed a lot of the original story that Veronica Roth presented on her books. Which was a smart move, actually, since the second and specially the third part of this series are bad. It truly sucks. What I thought while reading the books was that an author has a good idea, writes  a nice first book, but is unable to sustain the narrative in the subsequent books. There are many series that suffer from that kind of desease - Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld; Lauren kate's Fallen; Becca Fritzpatrick's Hush Saga, for example, to stay on the context of young adults literature only.

So, the decision to change it must have been an imperative in order to make a better movie in comparison to the book. There are some incongruences, of course. I'm not picky to realistic points, but it is weird that a girl that had cut her hair with the oldest and rusty scissors in the whole world came out of it with a super stylish hair cut. I want that scissors. And Tris' wardrobe in the poorest part of her city. In her world, amazing tops and leather jackets came from nowhere, as posh glasses and nutrient meals in a community where people are hungry. At least the books take these details under considerations, but they don't present visually beautiful protagonists. 

It was a nice entertainment, though. The new simulations have a great visual. And in a fast pace, almost two hour had passed without notice, with interesting songs at the end. An end, by the way, that is different from the original story. Such that I thought that it was the last movie. But no, Allegiant Part 1 (sure, there will be two movies for the last book, despite the fact that I thought the story had a nice ending in this seconde one) is expected to premiere in 2016. Lets see what more surprises the producers have in their sleeves.  

Look at these clothes... :)

Insurgent. Directed by Robert Schwentke. With: Shaylene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort (in this movie, I didn't find weird that Ansel and Shay are brothers, like I thought at the first installment). Writers: Brian Duffiel et al. from the book by Veronica Roth. US, 2015, 119 min., Dolby Atmos/Datasat/Auro 11.1 (the sound is actually outstanding)., Color (Cinema). 

PS: Fragment: Rush, 2013.


Day twenty: The Broken Circle Breakdown (March, 29)

About the movie The Broken Circle Breakdown I knew nothing but the name and that the film was beautiful, according to Lu, the friend that told me to watch it. 

The title tells everything: there was a circle, once, that was whole, for it was broken in some moment. And, after that already heartbreaking event, there was the ultimate breakdown.

On day nine, talking about romantic love, I said how the romantic movies usually have its end at the first love declaration and subsequent kiss between the two new lovers. The Broken Circle tells the whole story. And it does that in a non linear narrative - as neither feelings and remembrances are linear. The viewer has to built the puzzle to complete the story. We see Elise and Didier in different moments of their lives together. The difficult, heartbreaking, happy, sad, painful, musical, unbearable times together. 

The movie could be called a melodrama - ok, it is actually a melodrama. But by the gentle and never condescending hands of Belgian director Felix van Groeningen, it is in fact sweet, sad and, of course, heartbreaking. In some times, I had to distance myself a little in order not to sink too hard in some aspects of the story - one of my worst nightmares. 

I turned off the TV, went to sleep, and dreamt about Elise, Didier and Maybelle. The last was running around the house, but I couldn't reach her. And today I woke up with the same ambivalent mixture of sadness and sweetness, warm feelings for characters that portraited the loss experienced for unfortunately  too many people.

The Broken Circle Breakdown. Directed by Felix van Groeningen.
With: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, Nell Cattrysse.
Writer: Felix van Groeningen and Carls Joos from the play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Doebels.
Belgium/Netherlands, 2012, 111 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD). 

PS: In an interview, Johan Heldenbergh, actor and writer of the original play, said that he wrote the story as a political statement about religion and politics linked to the George W. Bush's veto to the stem cell research. The admiration of his character with the US, specially the bluegrass music, is, for me, a way to sustain how some of our beliefs are built in glass ceilings. 

PPS: Fragments: Mud, 2012; The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, 2013 (a lousy adaptation of a good story).


Day nineteen: The Salt of The Earth (March, 28)

Usually, when I talk about movies, I start from my own involvment with it. What called my attention, what I loved or not about it, the presence of a narrative that don't let get away. So, it was a pleasant surprise see a well known cineast as Wim Wenders begins his journey through Sebastião Salgado's works from the same starting point: two of Salgado's photos that Wenders has bought and liked a lot.

His own relationship with the art of Sebastião Salgado is the reason of the Oscar nominated documentary The Salt of The Earth, co-directed by Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Sebastião's older son.

This is not an usual documentary, and I reveled in that aspect during the whole movie. From the first scene, tears become to my eyes, and they took a permanent residence there until the final credits, when I looked at my another friend Rodrigo (PInheiros) in amazement. 

Documentaries are not my favorite ones. However, I don't know if it is because I always chose them carefully or for the friends that lead me to the theater to see this sort of movies  (I seldom watch to documentaries alone, contrary to what happens with fictional productions), but I have a nice experience with docs, such that I question my lack of entusiasm to see more of the kind. 

Nevertheless, I must say that what enchanted most in Wenders and Juliano's movie is how different he is from other documentaries. First, it is not only about Sebastião Salgado, or about his work as a photografer (one of the main protagonists), but it is with Sebastião Salgado. For long parts in the movie, both wonderful artists, seated side by side, look at photos, and Salgado narrates the images for Wenders and for us. Two masters of images telling about the world through their art.

Mostly in black an white, there are three languages spoken in the movie: english for Wenders and Juliano, mostly French for Salgado, that has spent a long part of his life in Paris, and bits of portuguese. This last one is more frequent at the end, when Sebastião is portraited in his native land, the once Salgado's family farm, now a part of the Instituto Terra project.

I talked so much and didn't say the essencial: the painful, beautiful, horrifying, overwhelming human journey through Salgado's photos. There are a progression, and the theater got more and more silenced at each one. At some point, Rodrigo, in front of the pictures portraying the burning oil in wells in Kwait, said to me: such a tragedy, and still he is able to get a lot of beauty from it. 

It is true. 

And through this essencial truth in his photos we move from human's stupidity, tragedy, violence and amazing beauty. Wenders puts us on a peak of pain and sadness to, at the end, remembers us that, at the same time that it is possible to lose the faith in the human kind, the world is beautiful, resourceful, and there are people that can restore our faith constantly. Like artists do - Wenders with movies, Salgado in pictures -, at the same time that they denounce all the horror that there is in this world, so close or so far, but still all ours, they tell us about the eternal hope for balance, peace and justice in the world.

The Salt of the Earth. Directed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders.
With: Sebastião Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Lélia Winick Salgado, Wim Wenders.
Writers: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado,  Wim Wenders, David Rosier and Camille Delafon.
France/Brazil/Italy, 2014, 110 min., Dolby Digital, Color/Black and White (Cinema). 

PS: Although wonderful, I thought that the film was lacking in some parts. Maybe he is so good just for that, but one thing intrigued me. The main protagonist is, as I said before, Salgado's world's view through his pictures. But his personal life is not separated from that - and his son being one of the documentary's director in a point in that sense. At some parts, the movie gets really personal, but some puzzles are missing. The one that I thought more strongly was related to Lélia, Salgado's wife and his love since they were students. In many moments, Wenders, also the narrator in the film, tells us how she was the force behind Salgado's work. For long periods of time during their lives together, they were apart. The whole time I thought what that meant for both, specially for her, raising too kids in a foreign country. Juliano talks a little about that, but Lélia's voice is only heard at the end, about the Instituto Terra project. Probably, that was her own choice, but I thought her voice was absent in the movie.

PPS: Still regarding Lélia, I also thought about 1.000 Times Goodnight, movie from day thirteen.  Both Salgado and Juliette Binoche's character chose to be in the world throught their images, and what a social work they do this way. And, even if I usually don't get stuck on gender matters, I couldn't avoid the feeling that the journey of both photographers, the real and the fictional one, had a very different impact in their familiar lives precisely for their different gender. 

PPPS: Rodrigo and I had a linguistic's class had semester with the main specialist in Zo'é comunity in Brazil. One of the happiest images in the film was the one in the deep bananeira's gree leafs and the natives painted in red. It is an image so beautiful and strong that I actually lamented the picture in black and white (of course we both ran to the book store near by to look at some to Salgado's photographs' books - we were still stuck on the images, as some other customers at the same place).

PPPPS: Ok, I'm not sure about this whole post post post post scriptum thing, but another memory in the movie was one from my teen years. Paris, Texas, 1984; Wings of Desire, 1987; Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Welt, 1991)  were big references to me at the time (and today). My oldest and dear friend Pan used to say to me, at the end of some of Wenders's movies: Wim Wenders and aprendedores (sorry, a quibble for portuguese' speakers only).


Day eighteen: Only Lovers Left Alive ( March, 27 - second time)

Sometimes, I think that we like to complicate things, even if it is controlled by ourselves.

The idea of this blog is to comment about a movie that I've seen - at least one for day during one year. It is simple. But in the short time of 18 days, I was somehow able to complicate the task in my own head. 

The summary about this internal radiohead is this: I usually see one movie more than one time (I told about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind here, a film that I've seen four times in a week at the movie's theater). And despite my ideal attempt of not repeating movies here, it is not an achievable reality for me. And why change that? I asked myself. The habit of choosing a movie a day and writing about it for sure will change and transform my relationship with cinema... but it something inherent to the task. Changing the way I relate to a movie, though, is not my main goal.

At least the poster is different

This long talk just to say that the day eighteen's film is a rerun. The fact is, since I've watched it last week, I couldn't get Only Lovers Left Alive out of my system. And it is still there, so probably you will see it here once more, or twice even... but I'll try to put another movie at the same day. However, that was not possible yesterday. And so Jim Jarmusch, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in an movie that is still amazing me are here again.

I'm in fact excessive about this movie. Yesterday, I was showing it to my beautiful niece and beloved friend Mari, and all the time I was like that: Isn't it incredible? Look at that! Aren't they amazing? Listen to this song!!! And so and so. And she tried to be diplomatic, but her response most often was: it is a bit slow, but it is ok. I was dying near her, and she was placidly ok. Well, a movie is not the same for everybody, and I'm usually a bit over reactive about the stories that call my attention. 

I'm still stuck in this movie pretty hard. One thing that I've thought since the first time is that Eve (Tilda Swinton) represents one important feminin symbolism: woman as, caring, wise, linked to the whole universe. There is the other side of woman's nature also, but I'll not spoil it for you that hasn't seen Jarmusch's film. 

I love both characters (all of them, actually, but the main couple is sheer love). I flow in the rhythmic images. I'm gripped by the outstanding soundtrack. The slow pace. There are so many funny and smart details... And the story is still with me, every day and night, getting out or into the dreamland on mornings and nights. Dreaming with the love story told by Jarmusch's unique point of view. 

Some movies throw me into the story at the first scene. Only Lovers Left Alive's opening was one of them. A beautiful and gripping one.

PS: I found a site with different posters of this film, all of them beautiful. 


Day seventeen: The Parson's Wife (March, 26)

Until now, this week has been dominated by danish and norwegian productions. And it is curious that, for two countries in which there are religious freedom and where only a small part of the population is a regular church frequenter, the three nordic movies that I've seen these past few days bring an important debates about faith, religion, spirituality in the context of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a majority in Norway and Denmark. 

The Parson's Widow (Prästänkan), by one of the most important cineasts from the cinema's early days, Carl Theodor Dryer, is a silent movie from the 1920's and it is astonishing. Of course I was expecting a good movie, but its acid humour and excelente edition for the time got me at the first scene. The story is gripping, with excelent performances. 

The setting is a 17th century Norwegian small vilage. For todays' viewers, it is a doubly historic cinematography, with two different times in the screen - the 17th century portraited by a early 20th century director. And a testimony of the Dreyer's hability as a cineast is that neither looked strange in the flat TV in a very early march morning in the 21th century.

The different colors on the frame did create different atmospheres: morning, night, interior... it is fantastic this kind of detail at that time. The editing is also surprising, with the character's different views. All of this envolved by a good story, that, as I saw in the contemporary nordic movies in this week, is still present today. 

There are, as is usual in the early movies, some theatrical aspects. When Hidur Carlberg  as Dame Margarete appears at the screen for the first time in the movie, for example, she is presented by a subtitle, in a still scene. It is rather beautiful. 

There are an unexpected bonus in this story: a debate around women's place in society and how generations through generations perpetrate habits and prejudices that should have been extinct for ages.  

The Parson's Widow (Prästänkan). Directed by Carl Theodor
 Dreyer. With: Hidur Carlberg, Einar Röd (the guy with the amazing
 expression in the picture above), Greta Almroth. Writer: Carl 
Theodor Dreyer after a story by Kristofer Janson. Sweden, 
1920, 71 min., silent, Black & White (DVD).



Day sixteen: Troubled Water (March, 25)

Is there a possibility of redemption for commiting a crime? For being considered a bad person? A criminal one?

Erik Poppe, the danish director of Adam's Apples, the movie from Day Twelve: March, 21, seems to think that there are no such thing as good and bad people. Beyond all archetypes - the good priest, the bad criminal, the beloved mother - there are only human beings. 

Human beings that can see themselves before impossible situations in life.  

After Adam's Apples, I got curious about Poppe, and tried to find his other films. This was not an easy task, but the fabulous Rodrigo (aka one of my dearest friends) found the other two for me. And today, at lunch time, we watched to Troubled Water (DeUsylinge). At the end, we looked at each other and said: wow. Nodding  in amazement for what we've just seen. And listened.

Yes, because part of the story is told through the thunderous sound of a church organ. A sound that dominated my feelings, my thoughts, my view, and told me about an unspeakable sadness. That tells about something that we try to explain, judge or justify, but we are not able to: the impossible futility of violence. 

I use to think that challenged realities and difficult times make great art. I don't know if the Nordic society is troubled, but their movies are, and they present fundamental refletions about today's life for us that live in this absurd, yet amazing, world. 

Distorted close-ups, inumerous flashbacks, music, two character's different views: all of these elements tell together a story about violence and the multiple aspects that seem to lead to loss.  We walk through Poppe's story with his images and sounds. We are guided piece by piece until we can see before us a puzzle that has no end, actually. Because those lives, despite the movie's end, are not over. We keep it in thoughts, in sensations, trying to make sense of something that has no explanation. 

At last, it is important to highlight Pål Sverre Hagen's performance as Jan Thomas. His face tells too much, and the close-ups on his expression put us on all the sadness, guilt and need for atonement that this story carries.  

 Troubled Water (DeUsynlige). Directed by Erik Poppe.
With: Pal Sverre Hagen, Trine Dyrholm, Ellen Dorrit 
Petersen. Writer: Harald Rosenlow Eeg. Norway/
Sweden/Germany, 2008, 115 min., Dolby Digital, 
Color (DVD). 

PS: Fragment: Her, 2013 - a movie that I've seen so many times that I lost account... But I got hooked on it every time. And the soundtrack  is beautiful. Heartbreaking.


Day fifteen: Elsa & Fred (March, 24)

At my first time in Paris, there was a lot I'd liked to do. But, despite being there for only three days, one thing was mandatory (after the Eiffel Tower): pass under the bridges in a boat down the Sena. 

That was a scene from Before Sunset (2004) that was printed in my soul, and I had to live it somehow. In the expected sequel to Before Sunrise (1995), by the tenacious Richard Linklater, Juie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are engaged in a terrific dialogue in a bateau down the Sena, with their faces hidden by the bridge's shadows or iluminated by the sun. It was so beatiful and true that I wanted to relive that. And I tried to that day in Paris. For some reason that doesn't come to my mind right now, I wasn't able to catch a Bateau Taxi, so I boarded a touristic boat, with tons of other tourists. I  found a chair outside the boat, far from the sound of the guide in the microfone, and started my own journey bellow the shadows of Paris Bridges. Yes, I had an image in mind, but that was not possible to relive outside the movie. Another one happened there, and it was equally outstanding.

That journey I relived with the movie Elsa & Fred, by the Argentinean director Marcos Carnevale. I'm not telling much about the movie here, less even than I use to do in this blog. Because, despite being able to envision the end from the first scene, it was full of little surprises, that made this story very precious to me.

Elsa & Fred remembered me today how cinema imprints dreams on our souls. And not just sweet, kind, illuminated ones, but also those that are heartbreaking. And enchanting. And funny. I laughed so much in this movie, horrified in ways with the amazing conning Elsa - a character so different from the image that I had built from the movie's poster.

And I had so much time to create that image. For another forgotten reason now, I didn't watch this film before. A lot of friends told me I had to, one of them even gave me the DVD as a gift, but nothing... until today. Just today, when I wished that a movie would take my hand and guide me through a beautiful, sweet, keen, sad, funny, intense story. And I got what I wished for. At least today. 

Elsa & Fred (Elsa y Fred). Directed by Marcos Carnevale.
 With: China Zorrilla, Manuel Alexandre, Blanca Portillo. 
Writers: Marcos Carnevale et al. Argentina/Spain, 2005, 
108 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD). 

PS: Looking for the movie on imdb.com, I found an 2014 american remake with Shirley McLaine Christopher Plummer and Marcia Gay Harden. Despite the amazing actors, I'm not an enthusiast of american remakes of foreign movies. The Argentinean production was able to avoid an over sentimentalism in telling this story... I'm sure that the same doesn't happen in the american version. 

PPS: Elsa has pictures of Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita around her flat. While watchin the movie, I could look to my own Anita and Marcelo's picture. During her honeymoon in Roma, a friend bought a still of the Fellini's film by the Fontana di Trevi - a touristy act that I'm thankfull for:

PPPS: Fragments: Someone Like You, 2001; Now You See Me (again, but now some parts from the beggining, that I hadn't seen before).

PPPPS (It's not a joke, I promise you): The image that initiated this post:

Under the bridge of Paris in Before Sunset


Day fourteen: Syneddoche, New York (March, 23)

Today was pretty weird, and being with Synecdoche, New York didn't help  to make it less strange. 

I love Charlie Kaufman as a screen writer. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is movie for life for me. So much that it was the subject of my first paper for college, during my masters degree. I saw it four times in the same week at the movie theater. Montauk at winter is a destination for me someday and a constant feeling at my imagination. 

I couldn't relate myself to Synecdoch,  though. It was like I was in another dimension, looking at the movie from a different universe. I could identify what it was saying, and the sense of it despite all the weird way of telling this story. And when I say it didn't make any sense to me, I go further than that weirdness. It was something more than that. I understand the thesis of art as a human way to avoid death, oblivion, as a way to live beyond the ordinary daily life... but in any moment of this movie I couldn't feel any of those feelings that were portraited before my eyes.

As I've said, it was a strange day. I wasn't feeling well, and so I decided not to eat anything. Only watermelon juice for me today. I begun to see the movie at about 1pm, I stopped in order to take a nap - a four long nap - and I went back to it after. At some point in the movie, there are a flashback from one of the first scenes in it, and I was chocked. It was a image from a long time ago, it seemed, from another life even. But actually I had seen it just a few hour before. 

Not even the amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman was able to make sense to me in this movie. As I've also said, I couldn't relate to any aspect of this movie. It is smart like a PhD thesis. But is soulless too, in a story that intends to be a tale about the meaning of life. 

An afterthought (I'm writing it in the day after): yesterday, two good friends that also love movies, told me how they admire this film. They gave me a lot of reasons, every one of them I could understand. What was inexplicable to me was my true aversion to this movie. And I was thinking about not being able to relate to it... and something came to my mind. Before the indiference, in the first scenes, I was actually angry with those characters, specially Adele and Maria. So, there are more layers here that I could see yesterday. But I'm not sure that I will go back to it so soon. 

Scrutinizing life through art... sometimes is wonderful and the only way...
other times, is just too antiseptic. 

Synecdoche, New York. Directed and writen by Charlie Kaufman.  With: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener. Us, 2008, 124 min., Dolby Digital/DTS, Color (DVD).

PS: Fragments: When Harry Met Sally (1989); Psi (2014), a brazilian TV show that really got my attention today. 

Day thirteen: A 1.000 Times Good Night (March, 22)

At some point during a 1.000 Times Good Night (Tusen Ganger God Natt), Juliette Binoche's character, Rebbeca, try to explain to her teenage daughter her need for working as a photographer at war zones. She says that she has such an anger since she was young that all she wants is to people to choke with their coffees at breakfast while seeing her pictures in the newspaper. For me, some cineasts do exactly that.

I shattered in thousand pieces while watching to the Norwegian director Erik Poppe's movie. And I think that love moves artist like him as well as anger. 

Images and music tell the history of human's struggles in life in a way that is difficult to explain. The delicacy and strenght that a photographer needs in his pictures, the cinematographer in 1.000 Times explores in each take. Each image is a tale. Each image carries the tale of a woman that is divided between different callings in life, in a way that is paticular to women around the world. I'm not sure if the guilt inherent to a woman's life is only cultural, or if it is a particular thread of the feminin nature. The way a woman's life is woven in love, guilty and desires for apparently contraditory things. 

It is not a simplistic ambiguity, and the Juliette Binoche's oustanding performance carries a lot of the nuances presented in her character's life. There is no right or wrong here. At some times, I was really angry with her husband, but I thought about how it is maddening to love a person in a constant risk of death, specially if you are co-parent with her. 

Vast sceneries in Ireland in constrast to the dusty desert situates the ambivalency that experiences Rebbeca in the form of a landscape, of contraditory images, of different needs in life. Needs that are not suited to each other, they live all together in a woman's heart. 

Two contrastant images, one life

1.000 Times Goodnight (Tusen Ganger God Natt). Directed by Erik Poppe. With: Juliette Binoche, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Excuse me a gushing girly moment here... even though we're talking about Jamie Lannister...), Maria Doyle Kennedy. Writers: Erik Poppe, Harald Rosenlow-Eeg. Norway/Ireland/Sweden, 2013, 117 min., Dolby Digital, Color (DVD).

PS: The first time I died a little at a Julliete Binoche's movie was in The Unbearable Lightness of Being in 1988. Leaving the place in the backseat of my friends's car, I couldn't talk, so big was the knot in my throat and heart. After that, it was rare not to be enchanted with her performances, even if the film was not great, what was not so usual, actually. She knows what she is doing, and she has been growing as an actress through her diverse roles. Before 1.000 Times, I've seen her in Clouds of Sils Maria, a movie that the Director Oliver Assayas said was dedicated to her career. A great film to an amazing performer. 


Day twelve: Adam's Apples (March, 21)

Faith is a not a granted business.

Adam's Apples (from the original title Adams Aebler), directed by Anders Thomas Jensen, goes around this subject in his 2005 Danish movie. The official genre is comedy, but we should not expect a light time with this story about good, evil and humanity.

The humour is there, but is subtle sometimes, almost hysterical in others... dark, insurgent. We are not even able to deceive ourselves with the comedy aspects at the beggining: it's clear from the first moment that those characters, that seems purely stupid, have a lot of depth and there's more to come in this tale about faith, and other things that surround being alive in this mad world.

Faith, specially when in the religous sphere, seems like a given thing. Like a thunderbolt in the head, a miraculous insight. Sure, there are amazing tales about these miracles. But Adam's Apples is not one of them. It is also an incredible tale, but about how faith is built from adversity and pain and loss and so many unfortunate events as a person can handle. 

My faith in life comes from both, I guess. For some miracles I'm thankful. But mostly the difficult times increased my faith in life, in love and in humanity even  it I lose it in  many everyday moments. 

My dearest friend Rodrigo, and one that use to restore my faith in life constantly, told me about this movie when we're talking about how good actor Mads Mikkelsen is. Two of my favorite movies are with him: After the Wedding (2006), that called my attention to the Danish director Susanne Bier, and The Hunt (2012). It's curious how Mikkelsen usually plays the surreally good guy in the nordic productions (with a few exceptions), but is mostly cast as a vilain in Hollywood - two 007 movies and the TV show Hannibal are some examples. But in whichever production he is, I try to check over his perfomance, always a good surprise, as it was in Adam's Apples

Adam's Apples (Adams Aebler). Directed by Anders Thomas
 Jensen.With: Urrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Bro. 
Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen. Denmark/Germany, 
2005, 94 min., Dolby SR, Color (DVD). 

PS: Fragments: Now You See Me (2013), a movie that I still have to see from the beggining. 


Day eleven: Spongebob Squarepants: The Movie (March, 20)

After ten days with amazing, surprising, beautiful, contorversial movies, it is with an almost anticlimatic feeling that I write today's post.

I went to the movie's theater with my nephew and niece, and the only filme available for their age was The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water. The girl said it was too childish (she's an old lady at the age of 11); he enjoyed the idea to watch it again (he had already saw it with his parents). So Sponge Bob it was. 

I don't have much to say about it, actually. There wasn't too much in the movie beyond what was being showed in the screen, and it was pretty silly (and I'm a fan of silly stories). I laughed with my nephew, that was having a good time. We three engajed at a popcorn war at some time, when the movie got too boring. And the two kids spent the final credits dancing below the screen, a tradition for them. And we all left the theater with bellies full of junk food, heading to the arcade to have another good time together, with no lasting memory of what we just have seen. 

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water. Directed by Paul Tibbit. With: Tom Kenny, Antonio Banderas, Bill Fagerbakke. Writers: Glenn Berger and al. US, 2015, 92 min., SDDS/Datasat/Dolby Digital, Color (Cinema). 

PS: I wanted to see an opinion by a fan, since I'm not familiar with the characters and the TV series.. So I tried the reviews at imdb.com, as I use to do when I need more information about a movie. I found many opinions, at the message board, in case you are curious too.

PPS: Fragments: Need for Speed, 2014 (I'm not explaining myself, but I feel that it is important to say that I see anything with Aaron Paul); Reaching for the Moon, 2013; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, 2008 - I didn't see any of these movies entirely. Actual fragments this time...


Day ten: Rushmore (March, 19)

The day with a Wes Anderson movie is a happy one. 

In all his movies, he takes us by hand with songs... so I start this post presenting three songs from Rushmore, the tenth day movie in this dare. I chose those, but in youtube there are the whole soundtrack, that is amazing.

I've read that Anderson wanted a movie with only 
The Kinks songs. But only used this one.

One of my favorite scenes, the tree one. Absolutely 
beautiful and heartbreaking.

At the end of last year, I've read a book, part of a trilogy, called Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins for young adults. Anna is an american teenager studying in Paris against her will. She loves movies, wants to study cinema at the college and doesn't know that Paris is the capital of movie's theaters (a plot with a lot of flaws, as it seems). The book is cute, the characters are cute, and some of their references are incredibly close to my own, like this one:
"Bridge calls as I'm watching Rushmore from the comfort of my mini-bed. It's the filme that lauched Wes Anderson. Wes is amazing, a true auteur involved in every aspect of production, with a trademark style recognizable in any frame - wistful and quirky, deadpan and dark" (p. 237).

One of Anna's favorites films, I've had never seen it until today. All the time I was questioning myself: why you took so long?

Actually, this delay in seeing Anderson's movies is becoming almost a tradition. Except The Grand Budapest Hotel, that I've watched twice at the movie's theater, I use to be a bit cautions regarding Wes' productions (after such a long time, I think we are good on a first name basis). 

The first one, The Royal Tenenbaums (that became the subject of the sencond chapter of my dissertation). About the delay, I can explain: the movie's stills freaked me a little. But in its first scene, I was captured for life in the Wes Anderson's way of storytelling. The next delays were another kind of cautions: I already knew that his movies would shake me for sure. So I'm always take care when approaching Wes Anderson's movies. But, as always again, I'm happily catapulted to his worlds at the first scene.

The day had another color because of Rushmore. And its not a happy story, but a true one. A heartfelt tale of love, loss, growing up, solitude, friendship and the things that matter to us. Wes Anderson is a master in the art of filming life. The no-naturalistic way by which he does that just accentuate the honesty of his films, and not the opposite, as one could think. He explicits the ficcional aspects of his narratives, and, in doing so, he just puts us on in the middle of the tumult of being alive. And happy. And lost. In love. In awe. 

Taking us gently by hand with his images and the always beautiful and heartbreanking songs that he chooses only for these special trips through ordinary life.

The song to this scene is Oh, Yoko, by John Lennon. Thanks God
I was at home... I sang so loudly and jumped from the couch,
dancing and singing happily... Wes Anderson, Ladies and Gentleman!!!!

Rushmore. Directed by Wes Anderson. With: Jason Schwartzman (his first hole); Bill Murray, Olivia Williams. Writers: Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson. US, 1998, 93 min., DTS/Dolby Digital/SDDS, Color (DVD).

PS: As the first movie by which Wes Anderson became known, we can see some appearences that were a constant in his films. There are a lot of familiar faces. It was the beggining of some long time colaborations, and it is curious to read the trivia on the imdb site. The Bill Murray's story is particularly sweet.

PPS:  The Royal Tenembaums' first scene is a beautiful way to present a story, with an orchestrated version of Hey Jude, by Beatles, to take our feet of the floor and embark on Anderson's journey of family and love and inadequacy. 

PPPS: Fragments: The Fault in Our Stars, 2014 (the whole movie, actually); The Hours (2002, beautiful); Divergent (2014).

Day nine: Fifty Shades of Grey (March, 18)

Sometimes, I get the strong feeling that the whole world entered a time machine and went back to the middle of the last century. Reviews about religion, politics and art led to that impression. And I felt this way recently in the première of Fifty Shades of Grey the movie.

This post is monstrously gigantic, and for those who don't want to go through it all (even if I haven't spoke half of what I had in mind) the main part is that:
... for many people this story makes sense. They can enjoy the different aspects in it, are able to relate to many things in it or just want to escape the hardness of daily life. Each one has their own choices. What is unacceptable, for me, is that all the raging critics and opinions present a more aggressive disrespect to those readers and viewers about  whom those comments are yelling so loud: women are being called stupid, delusional, rape suporter, soccer silly moms for liking Fifty Shades (and other stories). That is really sad and worrying, and it pass unnoticed in many reviews about the movies and books.
However, it's not only that. There are really so many shades to that (pun intended), it is impossible to give a complete view about it (if there is any).

The only thin we lose in the movie is patience

The midnight viewing was a month ago. Today, it was the fourth time that I saw this film, despite it being realy bad. But since the midnight exhibition at february, 12th, some of the reviews about the movie bothered me a lot, and then I wanted to write something about it. 

E.L. James' book, published from her Twilight fanfic Master of The Universe, is in fact bad written. It doesn't help that, by standing on the premisses of the Twilight facts and characters, it is even more difficult to develop the world presented by her in the Fifty Shades series. But all of this actually didn't matter for those who enjoyed the books and waited anxiously for the movie.

And at this point a warning is mandatory: romantic novels are for those who enjoy the genre. I've being hearing many opinions by a lot of people that don't usually enjoy this kind of story saying that it is awfull. But they are not talking about only this story specially, even if they refer to it. 

Notwithstanding all the dilema around it, Fifty Shades, as Twilight, is a simple yet compelling story about being seen, accepted and loved,  despite all our bad baggage in life. They are, as usually we see in romantic novels, cheesy, sometimes silly, but also a gripping reading for those readers that can relate to this kind of story. Story, by the way, that is the protagonist, for me, in both not so amazingly written books.

But that's the thing: both Twilight and Fifty Shades are the same story. Even the sexuality of the last is present in the first, even though the Stephenie Meyer's attempt to  hide it for religious principles. And not by chance E.L. James wrote her tale in a oversexed manner from what she had read in Meyer's books. 

My main question, in this scenario, is: why those two stories, that are fundamentaly the same, made such a huge success, but at the same time it is so difficult to consider it objectively? Yes, because there was a lot of contrary noisy related to both cultural hits, and the Fifty Shades premiere made me think more attentively about it. 

For a time now, the scenery in popular romantic fiction is changing, I think. Of course, romantic love is still mandatory in so many stories, and Fifty Shades is not a exception. Robert Johnson, a jungian researcher, defends, in his book We, that the mith of romantic love has became a plague in the Ocidental world since the Middle Ages, in particular with the tale of Tristan and Isolde. He says that by those standards, we fall in love not with someone else, but with the idea that we make of that person. According to that concept, true love would be pure, beautiful, not physical and the main goal of a person's life. Noble and elevated, it become a high ideal in the ocident's way of life, in its collective unconscious (under the theories presented by Carl Jung). Love, by this idea, should overcome all the ordinary aspects of life, transforming the lovers in superior beings. Or something like that.

And love is a head way to the extraordinary... but not the idealized love, I think. 

Christian Grey, in Fifty Shades, carries the cliché image of all the romantic heroes in a popular setting and is superlative in a lot of things: too beautiful, too atractive, too rich, too inteligente (and too other things in this erotic tale). He is, as says the name of James' fanfic, the máster of the universe. Ana Steele, the innocent heroine, has no other alternative but to fall in love with him and be introduced to a world of opulence and expensive gifts. She refuses all of it, marking how her love is pure and not materially oriented. Not a novelty in the romantic novels scenario. 

However, in some point the usual setting in a romantic tale changed a bit. And is at that manner that Fifty  Shades made a difference, became a phenomenon and defied in some aspects the way that popular romantic characters were depicted. Christian looks like  the perfect prince, but he isn't. He is very aware of that and explicits it to Ana right away. But an atraction too strong for both character's sake force them to try a way to be together. 

Of course there are different reasons for a reader enjoy this story or relate to it. The dreamy settings, the already said opulence, how Christian can give everything to Ana, etc., etc. I don't know, that aspect didn't secure my attention on the books. But I'm aware that the desire for those things are an attrative point in the story, that it is being criticized for encouraging this kind of consumist fantasy. 

Well, what gripped me while reading the books were a  different thing, not better or worse than the other (and not so unusual for many readers, the ones that I could ask about their thoughts on the subject). 

Relationships are tough, but we commonly see at the movies how romantic love is presented as a salvation. Not for nothing, romantic stories used to end at the declaration of love and at the first kiss, as it was the conclusion of all probations and hard work. For me, Fifty Shades tells another thing, and because it is not rooted in a mythological set as Twilight, it could highlight this aspect clearly: each relationship has its own challenges and each person has its baggages in life. Pain, fears, concerns, ambivalent feeling and even traumas. To make ourselves available to someone else is also confront all this baggage. 

And that is about what Fifty Shades is for me and so many others: a story about being considered as worth of being loved. And if Christian Grey deserves to be loved, with all his bullshit (and I'm not talking about the bondage/dominant stuff), well, everybody else can. And I think readers can relate to that.

Going back to the beggining, the fanfic was a huge hit on the internet, the books were a succes of sales by word-of-mouth recommendations, and now the movies are also a box office hit. The noisy around it became deafening, and in its tumult the story got lost. And wich story?, one should ask? I think there is one worthy telling in the books actually. 

Raging reviews yelled how the books and the movie encourage domestic violence and rape (deep breath). And the impression that I had with the film was that all these dissonant opinion got the better in the movie production, that, by the result I saw four times in the theaters, was very affraid of how to tell Christian and Ana's erotic love story at the movies.

I really wanted to enjoy this film. I left the midnight screening telling myself that it was allright, the material was actually difficult and all. But the next day, I had to go back to the theater, and this time my perception was very different. The world that came to my mind was cowardice. 

Because, you see, the most of the drama about this story involves the bondage aspects of the relationship between the two characters. The explicit sex scenes provoked some of the viewers to go into the theater giggling hysterically in embarassment for what they would see in the screen, in a louder hysterics than the one I saw in the five premieres of Twilight. 

In Fifty Shades, Ana is bonded, veiled, hit durind sex, and that leads to some criticizing rolling eyes and loud shouts of rape. And this scenario was a real challenge to the production when came the time to choose how tell this story in film. And so the battle began: director and author disagreeing, protagonists hating each other, writer and producers with different views... it is not a surprise that the movie is a big mess.

The story, as it seems, was moot to the people responsible to telling it through images. The characters were dispensable too. Absent is what made millions of readers unable to stop reading such a bad written narrative until the end. Because the format of the narrative can't hide how intense and gripping is this love story (again, for those who like the genre). And that intensity is nowhere to be seen in the movie.

It doesn't help that both the main actors, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, have the chemistry of two dead fishes. It doesn't help either that the sex scenes are cold as those dead creatures. And still doesn't help that the producers decided for a PG-17 rate to a story that builds a relationship through an atraction that is so strong that makes both characters go against what they believe in their lives to make their relationship works out. 

Ana is not stupid (even if she is forcibly linked to the attributes of a teenage girl, for being based in Bella Swan from Twilight). She is actually strong to such a young and inexperienced woman. Christian is not the rude rich guy that objectifies the girl who he is falling in love with - and the movie production portraits him just like that while trying to do the opposite.  The involved in the movie production tried so hard to distance themselves from the blurred aspects in the books that they manage exactly that with a mastery that confusion and greed (of course) can reach. 

It was a lost opportunity to tell this story better than the books. To picture a couple trying to be together despite their personal baggage and feelings. To show how, even through a cheesy writing (and it is really bad), E.L. James could present honest dialogues by characters that, for not being able to be far from each other, see not other option that to be true to themselves and the other one in order to make their relationship grow.

Abusiveness is present in every relation. Not necessarily physical, it is there, though. Manipulation, indiference, disrespect, lack of love, weakness, doubt, fear... It is not unusual. The unusual is the honesty and strenght to see our faults and admit that. Christian is brutally blunt about his flaws. He is abusive in the first book, but not sexualy. His major difficult is not being able to have a romantic relationship and to being touched, not the kind of sex that he enjoys (and he is not a dominant because of his traumas also, a factor that became clearer along the other two books - BSDM practitioners insist in criticize the books for that). He is a control freak, and has to change that in order to be in a relationship. Sometimes we want to punch him, it is true. But another important aspect in the story is that, while getting to  now Ana better and opening himself for another kind of relation, he doesn't give up his dominant features - I thought it was a positive point in E.L. James story, that highlight how his preferences are not a disease. 

Another key issue here is the openly and honest debate about female sexuality. EL James said in an interview that, despite all the controversy about her books, what she saw was a growing number of women (and men) paying greater attention to what is still very little discussed, including between women. In this sense, the book is not only not sexist, as it actually reaffirm in some ways the women's need to be aware of her choices regarding her own sexuality. The BDSM practice between Christian and Ana is not the main tone on their relationship, if you were here thinking how ironic it is that a woman has power over her sexuality in a submissive practice. It is not, however, and that is an important distinction. 

The second and third books in the series are even worse in some aspects than the first: the romantic features were almost unbearable to me,  until, at the middle of both, the story returned to what got my attention: two persons confronting their own fears and preconceived ideas about love in order to be together in an honest relationship, as I said before again and again. 

What is complicated about that? Friends that know how I research the impact of Twilight and Fifty Shades socialy came to tell me how they felt about the book. A friend that is a feminist activist said that she had to read it because of the noisy about agression - and the look of incredulity in her eyes was priceless. Some others found it a bad writen nice love story, and they had the same confusing look about all the dileme surrounding the books. Still other hated the first book, couldn't make themselves read the other - such a bad written story, they said. Not their  thing.

But for many people this story makes sense. They can enjoy the different aspects in it, are able to relate to many things in it or just want to escape the hardness of daily life. Each one has their own choices. What is unacceptable, for me, is that all the raging critics and opinions present a more agressive disrespect to those readers and viewers that the one they are yelling about: women are being called stupid, delusional, rape suporter, soccer silly moms for  liking the Fifty Shades (and other stories). That is really sad and worrying, and it pass unnoticed in many reviews about the movies and books.

At last (finaly!!!), I'd like to quote two commentaries to the NYTimes review of Fifty Shades of Grey before the film's releasing. It is odd how the critic enjoyed the movie, but couldn't admit it (in my view, of course). But, among a lot of noise and my own confusion in how a story can be murdered by a bad adaptation, two commentaries said what I tried to tell here, and I finish this long, long post with both:

I find it fascinating that a woman's story of love with kink as secondary player is under such scrutiny. The reason this book sold and kept selling is the redemptive factor of being seen, loved and accepted. Male fantasy tropes don't seem to get the same reduction to silliness. A leotard clad masked man in a cape that fights crime is not silly?
Thank you, Forest, for shutting up another of the 1970's anti sex feminists who are still lurking around (or their descendants), who don't know the difference between abuse and consensual activity, and don't want to, they are just as tied up in knots (pun intended) as the puritanical idiots on the religious right. Women bought the books out of curiousity, but they also bought the books (and other ones similar to it) because it was a fantasy, and more importantly, there is a lesson in it. Ultimately, the story is a conventional fantasy with a person who has scars being healed by love (hackneyed, but then again, most plots are), but in the end Anasthasia gets what she wants by the third book, she has Christian as a mate and lover, but also has learned she can get what she wants sexually. What this book ignited I think is that it triggered in woman the idea it is okay to ask for what you want (since if you read the book, Anasthasia is in effect 'serviced' a lot more than Christian is), and I think it told them that it is okay to play around and try different things. Whether the book is badly written or not is irrelevant, it touched many of those reading it and it helped dispel the message of religion, that has so made sex into a baby making machine with woman as a vassal to the man's needs, they haven't grown up out of the medieval period. 

This is how close these two were...
Fifty Shades of Grey. Direct by Sam Taylor-Johnson (it should been directed by the person responsible for the soundtrack). With: Jamie Dornan (after Charlie Hunman runned away from the character, he is now saying that he is not afraid of frontal nude scenes, in a diss to Dornan's no frontal policy... to late, right?); Dakota Johnson. Jennifer Ehle. Writer: Kelly Marcel from the book by E. L. James. US, 2015, 125 min., SDDS/Dolby Digital/Datasat, Color (Cinema).

 PS: Fragments: I Am Legend (2007), Rumour Has It (2005) and, first thing in the morning, Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) again.  I couldn't desconect myself from it. And talking about chemistry... Sam Taylor-Johnson would learn a lot with Jarmusch. 

PPS: The rules of romantic love are really bizzare. One of the most surreal reallity tv shows nowadays, and for many years now (13 to be exact), is The Bachelor and its spin-offs - The BacheloretteBachelor Pad and the recent Bachelor in Paradise. Last week I saw a interview in which Sean Penn said he and Charlize Theron watch the show, but they argue about fastfowarding the images - Sean defends that the interesting in it is the decisions and all the crying. He doesn't enjoy the dates and dialogue parts. It is  tough in fact. I agree with him. But I always find a way to do something while watching it in order to endure it till the end, even if I see the show by choice. There is a difference between The Bachelor/The Bachelorette and the other two spin-offs: the goal in the first is to find true love, it is a romantic goal for life, they say. The last two are competitions in the more tradicional ways, in which the winners receive money. So, in those,  sex is allowed, changing partners are common, what is not admited in the seeking for love. What is this life?, I ask. 

PPPS: Today, my good friend Kal, a sister by heart, sent me this image form her LA sightseeing. I thought it was related to this post, so I present it here: