La Grande Bellezza (‘The Great Beauty’), I seriously have no words for it, other than: please go and see it, it’s simply amazing! Watched this beautiful film in cinema last friday night and I’m still thinking about it. Here is a link to the trailer.
Category Archives: cinema
“When reading the description of this film for the first time, I definitely raised an eyebrow. A film about a man who can only move his left eyelid? That can not be the most fascinating story ever. Little did I know how beautiful it actually was. It all happened to Jean-Dominique Bauby, a successful editor of the French Elle. In the prime of his life he suffered from a stroke and became completely paralysed, a feeling he himself would describe as “living in a wet suit”. However, Jean- Dominique decided to make something of the time he has left (“I decided to have no self-pity and pay more attention to the two things that were not paralyzed: my imagination and my memory”) and asked his very patient nurse to write down his memoirs: Le Scaphandre et le papillon.
What makes this film special is not just the cinematography (which is in fact really really beautiful), but also how it makes you think about life. The main message of this film is not to show you how horrible it is to be locked in your body, but to show us that there is always something that can save you, like your imagination. Or, as the tagline of this beautiful french movie says: let your imagination set you free!”
If you love art house films and have a weak spot for the French language, this is one you definitely HAVE to see. You won’t regret it, trust me. It also has a great soundtrack!
(don’t watch it you don’t want to be spoiled ;) )
Hi everyone! Just wanted to share a quick film-tip with you today! The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s newest film about the teenage burglars from Hollywood. It’s not so new anymore (I’m a bit late with this post… whoops), but I still wanted to share it with you. You’ve probably heard about it already, but if not, here is a very small synopsis from imdb.com: Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes. Emma Watson is in it, Paris has a cameo and it’s directed by Sofia Coppola. It’s not THE BEST FILM EVER MADE (sorry Sofia), but I enjoyed it.
Here is the trailer:
(very short post, sorry, I’m super busy!)
A few weeks ago, when we were on a ship on our way back from Newcastle, it somehow felt very appropriate to watch the film Submarine. We both had seen it before, many moons ago, and really wanted to see it a second time. So, there we were (oh, yes, and by “we” I don’t mean myself and my second personality, but I’m referring to my boyfriend), in our hut watching Submarine, while the wind was rocking the ship back and forth and I was on my second anti-travelsickness pill. It proved again to be a great and fun distraction and it almost (almost!) made me and my stomach forget I was on a ship in the middle of the North Sea.
Well, what’s it about then ‘ey?
Submarine tells the story of Oliver Tate, a quirky high schooler who is struggling with typical teenage stuff. He really wants to lose his virginity and is particularly concerned with his parents’ marriage. When he meets Jordana, a mysterious and slightly popular girl from school who shows some interest in him, he is not only determined to lose his virginity to her, but also wants to be the best boyfriend in the world. In the meantime, his mother’s ex-boyfriend (the mystic) moves in next door and threatens the already not so great relationship between his parents. How does he know “it’s not that great”? Well, the light in the bedroom has not been set on dim since his last check-up. Something has to be done!
Originally a novel (which I have not read… yet) the director Richard Ayoade took John Dunthorne’s story and turned it into a real must-see. The use of colours, perfectly aligned shots (that scene under the bridge! so nice) and British sense of humour, made this something more than just a regular coming-of-age story. At times it made me think of a Wes Anderson film, which in my eyes is a real compliment (you’re not a real hipster if you don’t like Wes Anderson. Unless you don’t like Wes Anderson because every hipster likes Wes Anderson, which makes you again, a real hipster). At the same time it also has that British “roughness” you’d expect from a film that was shot along the coast of Wales. Oliver Tate’s voice over, in which he bares his inner thoughts and clever observations, is not only very funny, but also very honest and relatable. And even though some situations are really sad, the story doesn’t get “mushy” at all. That’s what makes this ultimately, above all, a real feel good film.
Also, the soundtrack is SO GOOD. It’s perfect for a lazy rainy day inside or when you have to study and want some background music. Listen:
See? Or better said: you hear that? Even when it’ll turn out you don’t quite like the film as much as I do, you’ll still have the soundtrack to enjoy.
You also want to see the trailer? Here is a link to the one on youtube.
1. The story
The Great Gatsby is a classic, beautiful and tragic love story. For the ones that haven’t read the book: I don’t want to spoil too much about the story, but I do want to give a small synopsis. I probably won’t say anything that would not be on the back of the dvd case, but skip the next (small) part if you want to stay totally clueless ;) Anyway, what is it about and why is it so great? The Great Gatsby is a story told by Nick Carreway, who finds himself talking to his shrink about his past and his fascination with his old millionaire neighbour during his time in New York: Jay Gatsby. Gatsby lured Nick in with his lavish nouveau riche lifestyle, his mystery and glamorous parties, but Nick soon discovered that there was so much more to Gatsby’s story. Enter Daisy, the girl that Gatsby has been obsessed with for years and years. And somehow you know… this is not going to end well. Sounds a bit sad? Yes, it kind of is. But wow, it’s also so very beautiful. It touches on so many aspects of love (and life). The book (by F. Scott Fitzgerald) is a classic for a reason.
If someone would take a really close look at my itunes list, the first thing they would probably notice is that one embarrassing Ashlee Simpson album I still own (you know, the one she made when she dated that Ryan dude, starred in her own reality show and still had her old nose). They would also see that the majority of my iTuneslist consists of film-music. Here are my 10 fav’s (with both a link to the soundtrack as well as to one of my blog posts, in case I already wrote about the film).
My blogpost (where you can also find a playlist).
Lost in Translation
Blogpost – Playlist
Into The Wild
The film Marie Antoinette (2006) by Sofia Coppola is a real jewel and it sure is one of my favorites. On a historical level it might makes no sense at all, but it is an absolute feast for the eyes.
Marie Antoinette was an Austrian princess who lived in the eighteenth century and was just fifteen years of age when she had to marry the royal heir to the throne of France. You may know her from her famous quote “Let them eat cake”, something she allegedly has said as a response to the starving french people. However, two hundred years later we can almost for certain state that she has never really uttered that sentence at all and that it was just a matter of successful propaganda by the revolutionaries. And that is exactly what Sofia has wanted to avoid in this film. This film therefore shows the situation entirely from Marie’s point of view. She shows us how difficult it must have been for a 15 year old to move to another country, with totally different costums and the entire royal court watching your every move. How hard it must have been for Marie to have that pressure to produce an heir and endure all the gossip and slander. And of course she shows us the delicious world in which Marie flees from her sorrows, by buying shoes and clothes and wigs and hosting crazy parties over at the palace.
It all sounds a bit harsh and depressing, however, this film generally has a very positive vibe to it. It’s almost impossible not to, with such a delicious color palette (pastel!), such a creative director, cool soundtrack and beautiful images. Almost 90% of this movie is perfect bliss. Only when the story gets sad, the film is shrouded in black and the pastel is suddenly gone. Sofia has chosen not to depict the brutal death which bestows on Marie. Instead we see Marie and her family being driven away from Versailles in her carriage, the same way she entered it in the beginning of the film. Although not as dark as her actual ending, it is still a bitter pill to swallow after all the pastel bliss. And that real bittersweet feeling is what makes it a true Sofia film.
Soundtrack (this mix is not made by me):
You can click here for the trailer.
My fascination with Japan probably started right after the first time I watched Lost In Translation (don’t know it yet? IT’S ONLY MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME. Click here for my review and here for a playlist). Which is kind of ironic if you think about the backlash this film received from the actual Japanese people. Although the director (Sofia Coppolla) said it was supposed to be a “valentine to Tokyo”, that was not how some Japanese perceived it. The film made fun of Japanese stereotypes, they said, and all in all was not a fair representation of how Tokyo really is as a city. You can read a bit more about it here. Nevertheless I must say I myself DID perceive it as an ode to that city, which maybe makes me a bit culturally ignorant, but also helped me create a small obsession with Japan and made me fall in love with it. I really want to go there some day!
It may have started with Lost in Translation, but it certainly did not end there. Here are some of my current japanese obsessions.
Pictured: the films Lost in Translation, Departures, Tokyo Sonata.
Already I talk way too much about Lost in Translation, so I will skip telling you about that one. The other two films have already been featured on my blog over the years as well, but those reviews are no longer online.
Tokyo Sonata is a story about a family from Tokyo. The father loses his job, the little boy sneaks out to enjoy his passion (playing the piano), his big brother decides to change his life drastically and all the while the mother is desperately trying to prevent her family from unraveling. At first glance it sounds like a somewhat boring film. But nothing proves to be less true, trust me! What makes this film special is not so much the story, but rather the characters and how they deal with these changes. You can feel how the characters are suffocated by their own Japanese culture, where status and respect are everything. Above all the film is beautifully shot, has a great soundtrack and is great if you want to see a bit more of Tokyo besides the skyscrapers. I also feel you can learn a great deal about their culture by watching this film.
Departures (or おくりびと, according to google translate – correct me if I’m wrong) is a lot different from Tokyo Sonata in the sense that it is a bit on the comedic side. Which sounds probably very strange when I tell you what this film is all about. When Daigo Kobayashi gets fired from playing in an orchestra, he decides to stop playing the cello and to return, together with his wife, to his native village. His mother left them a house, which makes if already a lot easier for them to survive. He still needs a job though, so he goes out searching for one. He responds to an ad that says “guiding the journey”. But that’s obviously a typo! At least, that is what they tell him when he arrives at the company. It should be: “Guiding the final journey”. When Daigo finds out that he ended up at a funeral home instead of a travel agency, his first reaction is to rush out the door. After all, he has never seen a dead man and how he should deal with such a job? But the boss, an eccentric Japanese softy, lures him in with a few bills and he decides to stay anyway. A film with lots of laughs because of the dark humor and also a small tear. And that beautiful cello… wow! This film actually won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2009 Oscars.
Now, some of you will maybe find it a bit weird I have not spoken about the horror genre when it’s such a big part of Japanese cinema. I’ll be honest with you and tell you I really don’t like horror-movies. I used too, but not so much anymore. I’m a bit of a wuzz! ;)
Pictured: the books Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami & Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Norwegian Wood was the first book I read that was written by a Japanese author. Which turned out to be a great place to start, because Haruki Murakami is one of the most well known writers of Japan and for a good reason: he has written a lot of best-sellers. Norwegian Wood is the only book in which he ventures into realism. It is a coming of age story about a boy called Toru and his life as a student in Tokyo. A real must read if you ask me! The rest of his books (like Kafka on the Shore, Bird Wind Up Chronicle) can be called fantasy. Not fantasy in a Lord of The Rings kind of way, but fantasy in a surrealistic sense. He has a way of writing that manages to captivate you and lure you in to his world.
Memoirs of a geisha is a book Anne recommended to me (I borrowed her copy, which almost falls apart because she has read it so many times) and I was pleasantly surprised. A great and fascinating story, well written and (with the risk of sounding like a book marketeer): truly captivating. I couldn’t stop reading. It tells the story of a girl who grows up to be a geisha in the Gion district and although it isn’t a true story, it sure feels like it. I knew near to nothing about geisha’s before reading this, but I felt this book to be a perfect way to start my education on the subject. There has been some controversy around this novel, so I think it would be a good thing to read this book with the clear notion of it being fiction in the back of your mind.
Other book recommendations: Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84, both by Haruki Murakami. 1Q84 I still have to read myself, but I heard great things about it. Also, Never Let Me Go is written by a Japanese author called Kazuo Ishiguro and therefore I think I can mention it here as well.
What I would visit/do in Japan
Pictured: the skyline of Tokyo.
Things I would do or places I would visit in Japan: ♥ Visit Kyoto and walk around the temples ♥ I loathe karaoke with a passion, but for Tokyo I would make an exception! I want to visit one of those little cubicles you can rent and sing a long till deep in the night (can you tell I watched Lost in Translation way too many times?) ♥ Obviously I would want to see a bit of the beautiful nature this country has ♥ I would be on the look out for good Japanese music. I know absolutely nothing about that yet. Maybe some of you can recommend me something? ♥ Observe the locals. How they act, what they wear, what they eat… ♥ Take crazy pictures in those giant photo booths and visit an arcade ♥ Eat sushi (OF COURSE) and other delicious Japanese food in a small restaurant instead of the big chains we have over here ♥ Try to learn the language! It looks really difficult though… ♥ Ride the subway while listening to a part of this soundtrack ♥ Just walk around Tokyo for hours and hours with a camera in my hand ♥ Buy a travel guidebook on Japan before I go ;-)
I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe discovered some new obsessions yourself. It seems to me that a visit to Japan will be a real culture shock and I think that is part of the reason why I’m so attracted to it. If you are from Japan or have visited it, you may think this is all a bit superficial and stereotypical or culturally ignorant of me: I hear you. Seriously, I would find it funny as well if someone would write a post about the Netherlands and all he/she did was talk about windmills and wooden shoes, because that would be a very untrue representation of it. Nevertheless I can’t wait to find out if my idea of Japan in any way resembles the real thing. In the meantime I’ll just enjoy the good things that come from it and dream myself away. Maybe I’ll see you there? ;)
さようなら！ (bye!) (according to google translate)
Imagine, you just got out of a long intense relationship and a doctor gives you the possibility to let you forget your ex-lover’s entire existence. No longer crying for hours while playing sad break up music in the background, no more sleepless nights, no more obsessive checking of their facebook page, it won’t hurt when they’ll hook up with someone new and you will finally be able to eat again. In short: you will be able to go on with your live as if nothing has happened. You will completely forget about your ex and the relationship you’ve had. But there is a catch: not only will you forget the bad stuff, but also all of the lovely memories you made together. Would you do it?
In The Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Joel (Jim Carey) has to answer that question when he finds out his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) erased him from her life and memories after their break-up. Pure desperation and hurt eventually make him choose to undergo the same procedure. He feels betrayed and wants to forget about Clementine as soon as possible, just like she did with him. Though he fails to consider one importing thing: how precious those good memories actually are to him. By then, it is already too late.
The first time Joel and Clementine meet.
What follows is a film in which we see Joel desperately clinging on to his memories with Clementine. Not only the good ones, but also the bad memories become precious to him. We see them when they are fighting, when they are making love, we see them doing everyday stuff and we see them during their happiest times. Joel tries to hide all those memories. He does not want the doctor to erase them. But will it work? Or will the doctor succeed and let Joel forget all about Clementine? And if so, will this also mean the end for their relationship or will they be together no matter what?
Joel’s memories are messed up when Clementine in one scene suddenly acts as his mother.
The things I love most about this film are probably the characters and their interesting relationships. Kate Winslet plays the role of a psycho bitch (sorry, no better way to describe it I guess) and Jim Carey is just SO good as Joel. I’m used to Jim being the crazy one, but for this film Kate has gone all out on that one! I think the casting is perfect and they play this crazy couple so convincingly. Clementine and Joel challenge each other and may not always bring out the best in the other, but all in all they are very cute together. Kirsten Dunst also has a small but very convincing part in this film as a girl who falls hopelessly in love with her boss.
Other than that it it a very original story. It will fascinate you (if not only for all the different haircolors Clementine dons in this film) and it made me think about life and relationships in general. Let me put it this way: if you answered the question I asked you earlier with a “yes”, maybe you will think differently after seeing this film. Because it sure made me wonder: is a spotless mind even that sunny at all?
Let me start with a warning: I cried my freaking eyeballs out during this film. This may also be due to my emotional instability, but I can not imagine that anyone can watch this without feeling even a little compassion for the characters. This film is more than a tragic love story, but the tragic love story is what I most remember, courtesy of the great actress Carey Mulligan. I already praised her for her role in An Education and oh, she’s done it again in this film. I think I’m even a little bit in love with her (actually, no, after watching the Great Gatsby, I AM). Anyway, let me tell you about Never Let Me Go. (more…)