Inland Empire – LOGARTA, Louise

We were forewarned: watching “Inland Empire” would be like having a nasty LSD hit. THAT HAD TO BE THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE MILLENIUM.

At the beginning of “Inland Empire”, I decided to take the advice given to us; to just let the images and dialogues sort of wash over us instead of trying to understand it. In what I believed to be the middle of the movie, I was starting to get confused – not an uncommon thing in film class – but still decided to give it some more time. For all I knew, it might have some pivotal scene which would enlighten us. Later on, I decided there would be no pivotal scene. I just got exceptionally pissed with it. What felt like a million hours later and no closer to an understanding of it, I seriously had half a mind to just get up and walk out. Instead, I started to count the hours and minutes till the end of class. Soon, I was consumed by no other thought except for, “Let it finish.” Honestly, the movie was so long that I wanted to cry already because it wouldn’t end. K The only funny part in that movie was when Laura Dern was dying and the old woman goes, “You dyin’, lady”, and the Asian girl keeps going on about Pomona and her friend Niko. It is the movie that emerged from the seventh circle of hell to torture us. I don’t know what I did to deserve having to watch it. Right after having seen it, I went, “I need to watch a normal, mainstream movie that has a single clear plot and normal mainstream characters.” I remember talking about it with a couple of classmates after watching, and saying that maybe David Lynch, the director, popped a few caps before every take or something. And that the audience, were they to understand anything had to take LSD too. Haha.

It is very, very safe to say that there is nothing in this movie that I understood. The only thing I even just remotely got was that the main character, Nikki/Sue went crazy. She was immersed so much into her character (in the movie she was shooting, On High in Blue Tomorrows), that by some horribly twisted way, she sort of really lived it even after the movie was shot completely. According to research I did on the movie, Lynch gave only a short comment about “Inland Empire”: [it’s] “about a woman in trouble, and it’s a mystery, and that’s all I want to say about it” (Blatter, 2006). You don’t say.

In fairness to the film, I guess one good thing I could say about it, its one strength as it appears to me, are its characters. A movie is that much more interesting when its characters are unique. From the very beginning, there was that crazy old neighbor lady. Then there was the creepy Bunny Trio. Them I did not get. Then there was that psychic girl as well. All the characters, big or small, had their own quirk/s, and I suppose that was one the film’s pluses.

Apart from that though, “Inland Empire” is not an experience I want to have again. Ever.

Eyes Wide Shut – LOGARTA, Louise

“Eyes Wide Shut” was one of the few films I very much enjoyed watching in class, next to “Inglourious Basterds”. At the same time, though, as the film progressed, I became very, very disturbed. It was easy enough to understand in the beginning: a well-off, on-the-surface ‘normal’ couple whose marriage is falling apart, with the husband trying to put things back together. Since “Eyes Wide Shut” starred golden (former)-couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, I didn’t expect it to have such a twisted plot. Personally, I think they played their roles excellently. Never before have I seen them in such roles.

At first though, I thought that the plot digressed from what it originally started with. I mean, look, the movie began as if it revolved around the life of a married couple whose marriage, is, as earlier mentioned, falling apart. They go to this party of a friend (Ziegler) where both of them are flirted with separately; Bill Harford by two libidinous models and Alice Harford by an (almost-creepy) Hungarian man. When they get home and get dressed into just underwear, they start smoking weed and then, in what I can only assume to be the very effect of pot, Alice goes off into a state of being high. She starts to pick a fight with Bill about the two models who were flirting with him. They get into this argument about the level of fidelity of a man and a woman. While Kidman’s character kept going at Bill’s throat, I kept thinking, “Oh my God, she’s freaking crazy.” There was a moment of comic relief, thank goodness; it was that moment where she starts getting the giggles. For the audience I guess it was just pretty awkward. Our laughter though was audible. Anyway, their argument was pretty much the hinge of their marital relationship and Bill’s journey to discovery about sexuality – of individuals and of himself.  The religious cult orgy was extremely creepy and I kept going in my head, “WTF, WTF, WTF.” The events that occurred thereafter were basically about Bill looking for answers. He was suddenly opened up to the different sexual encounters of the world around him, including those of his wife’s. As the movie progressed, the dreamlike quality of the movie increased as well. The coincidence of Bill encountering that cult orgy and Alice having a dream that sounds remarkably like it was proof of this. Some parts though were quite unclear to me, like when the mask Bill used appeared on his side of the bed next to Alice. Part of me feels that if that incident was explained, it would add a whole lot more depth to the movie, but another part of me also feels that its mystery gives it depth as well. I liked that the movie ended with Alice and Bill Harford finally finding one another again and resolving, even just somehow, issues that grew between them.

Masculin Feminin – LOGARTA, Louise

Godard’s “Masculin Feminin” was on the surface, an annoying film. First off, though I have no prejudice against it being in French, it was much of a hassle to me to constantly be reading the subtitles instead of focusing on the screen itself. Secondly, each time a new chapter would be introduced, it always did so in a very – for lack of a better word – harsh, manner. Each word or syllable flashed on the screen – in French – and there was an accompanying sound: like a piece of metal being forcibly passed through a shredder. Third, the gunshots. They sounded every X number of minutes and I didn’t see any purpose for them in the film.

I did though, kind of like “Masculin Feminin”, for it’s love story aspect (I’m a girl; do forgive me). Predictably, no movie we are ever made to watch in class is as simple as love stories go. Godard was also trying to illustrate the decade our main characters and their friends lived in – the sixties. I can only gather that Marx was big back then, and apparently so was Coca-Cola. “Masculin Feminin” is a movie about the youth, for the youth, pop culture, sex (in all senses of the word), and politics.

So in the movie, Paul and Madeleine become a couple, despite the difficulty of winning Madeleine over in the beginning. Eventually, when they move in together, they have to live with two of Madeleine, Catherine and Elizabeth. According to the research I’d done on the movie, apparently their setup is what one would call a “ménage-a-quatre”. It reminds me of that term, “ménage-a-trois”; I think that it’s usually used when there’s a sexual connotation. So calling Paul, Madeleine, Catherine and Elizabeth a “ménage-a-quatre” sort of gives off that theme of sex of the movie. Especially that scene when they were all sort of squished into one relatively tiny bed and they started talking about different terms for “butt”. It was pretty funny and it brought up the sex theme in a non-erotic kind of way. In a more obvious way, this theme was also tackled when the females began using artificial contraceptives, like diaphragms and pills.

Another theme tackled is pop culture. Madeleine is an aspiring young singer star, her circumstances proving that the words of Gilderoy Lockhart (Harry Potter 2) are right: “Fame is a fickle friend.” Throughout the movie, there is a feeling that Paul doesn’t take Madeleine’s passion seriously. Also, some references are made to Bob Dylan.

As for the sphere of politics in this movie, obviously the war in Vietnam is going on. Paul’s interview with Miss 19 was a clear indication that some of the youth don’t even know there’s a war going on. It’s pretty sad, actually. We should always be aware of whatever’s happening around us, because it could affect us.

“Masculine Feminin”, though a little difficult to comprehend and to watch, was a substantial movie. It deserves any praise that its been given in reviews.

Repo Man – LOGARTA, Louise

Repo Man. What can I say about it? Off the top of my head, at first I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but in the end I found it extremely amusing. If I were to summarize this film in a sentence I’d do it like this: “It’s about the life and circumstance of a ordinary teenage punk that eventually morphed into a convoluted race to finding a Chevy Malibu that’s got aliens in it.” I’m not a fan of sci-fi and “Repo Man” turned out to be a sci-fi movie. However, at first I found it a little dragging, what with it starting off by showing the typical life of a teenage punk. I remember finding it weird that one scene showed a bunch of punks listening to punk rock and getting into the vibe of it, pushing each other in a rough way, looking as if they’re about to fight but apparently it’s a sign of friendship.

There were certain points in the movie that I found to be subtly important; that is, in respect to Otto’s transformation into a repossession man (which, by the way, is a term I only learned upon watching “Repo Man”) and to society in that decade. After Otto got dumped by his girlfriend, he’d went home to his parents and asked his pot-smoking parents if they still had the thousand dollars they promised him; he’d wanted to go back to school. Unfortunately, they’d given it to a crooked televangelist. To me, that only makes Otto’s character seem as having potential to change, this change being stunted however by those who carry weight relevant to his life. So one day, when Otto takes wanders the streets presumably aimlessly, this guy in a car rides up to him and asks him if he wants to earn a quick buck. Eventually, Otto learns that Bud is a repo man, and so becomes one himself. So they kind of go around collecting cars, snorting coke or whatever it is, living life on the fast lane – literally. Otto meets Leila, a pretty girl who turns out to be a UFO nut. She tells him about this Chevy Malibu that’s allegedly got dead aliens in the trunk that’ll vaporize anything that takes a look, which is being driven around by a half-crazy scientist. Of course he doesn’t believe her, but a $20,000 bounty does a lot to change one’s mind, I guess. For a moment, let me return to the punks-loving-punk-rock side of the movie. Throughout the crazy car chase, Otto’s punk friends keep robbing convenience stores. Nearing the end, a shootout takes place and one of his friends tells him that society made him this way, etcetera, etcetera. Otto tells him something along the lines of, “Cut the crap. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.” For me, that was a wisdom-packed statement. Otto takes himself and his friends for what they really are.

To wrap everything up, I’m inclined to say that aside from Otto’s transformation into a repo man, there isn’t any real solid connection between the alien thing and the punk rock lifestyle. “Repo Man” invites us to have a different way of looking at the world, and that there’s another world out there waiting for us to break free from the individual worlds each of us live in.

Barton Fink – LOGARTA, Louise

If this movie were a boy, I’d have mixed feelings towards it.

In the beginning, “Barton Fink” was easy enough a plot to follow: this New Yorker playwright’s work becomes a big hit and next thing he knows, he’s being shooed off to Hollywood to write a script for some B-list wrestling movie. No twist as of yet, but in my mind, I knew, based on the movies we’d seen so far in class, that there was something to this “Barton Fink” I had yet to discover.

The pace of the movie was too slow for me. Truth be told, it made me slightly sleepy. However, things did pick up speed and became interesting when Barton first arrived in Hollywood. Very different kinds of characters suddenly pop up: Charlie the neighbor (we’ll get to him later); W.P. Mayhew, the famous author and Fink’s idol; and Audrey, Mayhew’s assistant with whom Barton is quite taken by, not to mention the Hollywood bosses like Jack Lipnick. Barton Fink himself is easy enough to describe. If I were to exaggerate I would say he’s a writer tortured by his inability to create something meaningful for the very people he writes for and about – the common man. It’s clear what Barton’s problem is: he doesn’t know what to write. He can’t write. Personally, I understand that, because I myself write (usually just articles, but I do best when I write short stories). Inspiration does not come. What can you do, right? But then, because of this creative block, he starts to notice tiny things, things that would be inconsequential had the circumstances been different. And can I just say, that these things he notices really creeped me out? First there was that invisible mosquito (well at leastIdidn’t see it), then there was that peeling wall, then there’s his neighbor Charlie, and at one point the high-libido couple on the other side of the thin walls.

In Barton’s quest to acquire inspiration, he is befriended by his neighbor Charlie, whom he complained to the bellhop was making noise. They shared with each other a brief history of what they did for a living, from where they hailed, and whatnot. What’s interesting though, is the fact that Barton Fink writes about the “common man”, and Charlie here is a living example of one. He tells Barton, “Boy, have I got some stories for you.” Several times he says this, but I noticed that every single time he does, Barton cuts him off. It set me off because it’s quite disrespectful of him. Barton likes to theorize but never listens.

Then there’s Bill Mayhew. A fraud of a writer who drinks to escape his reality. Barton loses his faith in Mayhew when he finds out that Audrey, Mayhew’s secretary for all intents and purposes, was the real brains behind the masterpiece. Now the movie gets really freaky post-Barton-and-Audrey-coitus. Audrey is found brutally mutilated, her insides spilling out. Then the detectives come in and ultimately we realize that Charlie or Madman Muntz is behind all this. Barton asks him the crucial question: Why?

Asking why usually opens the door to revelations that would not have been discovered had it not been for another person’s point of view. In all the time Barton had stayed at the Earle Hotel, he has not been paying attention. So these are the consequences he faces. All these characters are very richly colored, in my opinion and that’s what makes me like this film. But just the open-ended questions left unanswered make it mind-boggling and honestly, I wouldn’t want to watch it again.

Brazil – LOGARTA, Louise

Watching “Brazil” reminded me of George Orwell’s “1984.” At first, I didn’t quite understand the point (although I think that day was just one of those days that my mind was slow) of the film. Then I realized that it was Terry Gilliam’s means of criticizing a totalitarian government; that bureaucratic power whose sole aim seems to be to rob society’s members of their individuality and a measure of their freedom. For me, Sam Lowry’s dreams were a good way to show the distinction between what he considers his reality and his desires. There’s the girl he likes, all the time just suspended in the air, and there’s him of course, with wings to fly anywhere he wants to go in that silver outfit. It’s the same for the rest of us, I suppose, that our desires are things that we dream about, though unlike Sam’s case, not in the literal sense.

There are some things about the movie, I think, that are very significant, symbolism-wise. I couldn’t help but notice them. The very first thing that caught my attention was Sam Lowry’s mother. She is probably one of the most purposely caricatured and laughable characters in that movie. Her snobbish air was very characteristic of a woman who indulges too much in plastic surgery (representing vanity, the lengths to which a number of people, not only women, today, do). She flaunts her money and influence around like anything, She showed this when she tried to get Sam into Information Retrieval, which to him, by the sound of it, was tantamount to selling out.

A scene that got to me was when Sam, his mother, her friend and the daughter went out to dinner. First off: the food. The food – if you could call it that – was something out of a futuristic cartoon, I would say. You know, the ones where food was crammed into such things like tablets, or gross-looking compositions. It was like that. The waiter, although Sam had already expressed his wish for the steak, could not seem to do anything further until Sam says the number. Another scene that got to me as well was when Harry Tuttle came in and fixed Sam’s airconditioner only to be almost caught by the heating engineers from Central Services. They almost got him – were it not for Sam asking for a particular form called 27B-6. One of the Central Services engineers went epileptic with shock! (Or was it trauma?) The point I’m trying to make is that in this system, no one can seem to move a muscle without the government knowing about it. And that’s pretty scary. A world where you’re allowed no privacy? You’d go crazy.

Going back to the dinner scene with the mother, a fire breaks out and yet, a divider is actually set up to block the unsightly event happening right next to them. I think this sort of symbolizes the way that society sometimes copes with crisis. Or a simple person with a problem. If you don’t mind it, maybe it will go away. But the reality is, in fact, that no one can ever really escape a problem unless it is confronted and provided a solution for.

From those points, I can say that I liked “Brazil” in its entirety but I cannot say that I loved it. It makes one think.

 

F for Fake – LOGARTA, Louise

Orson Welles’ “F for Fake” initially started out as an extremely confusing film to me. It had the feel of a documentary; however, it also came across as a work of fiction. To add to that sort of puzzlement is the fact that the documentary-slash-fiction movie is about fakery, fraud, art, life and the interrelation among all of these. Regarding the cinematic aspect, the film was literally dizzying due to all of the cuts, zooms, and continual switching from frame to frame, that sometimes it is difficult to keep track of Welles’ narrations, the people’s dialogues while keeping your eyes on the screen. Nonetheless, this situation is nothing a little research on the movie can remedy. Researching “F for Fake” and Orson Welles helped pinpoint some of the essential points of the film. I was actually banking on learning more about Orson Welles’ style via “Citizen Kane”, unfortunately, I have not had the chance to see it. I read up on it just a little bit, though, and some similarities are Welles’ inclination to narrating the story at hand, and the inclination for the film to revolve around or at least be reminiscent of – in the case of “Citizen Kane”) actual people. Other than that, unless I actually make a detailed viewing and observation of “Citizen Kane” and “F for Fake”, I can see no significant similarities.

Anyway, what really caught me about this film is its theme; that is, as I mentioned earlier, fakery, fraud, art and life. I really like that the very first scene of the movie shows Orson Welles performing a magic trick, sleight of hand for two boys in a railroad station, after which he explicitly says that the movie we are about to watch is all about lies. And yet, he says, whatever we are presented with throughout the film are based on solid facts. Pretty confusing, isn’t it? By way of this film, Welles’ walks us through the stories of three fakers: Elmyr de Hory – a master forger of famous paintings (Picassos, Modiglianis, and so and so); Clifford Irving – de Hory’s biographer who faked association with Howard Hughes (that business magnate who made his fortune through airplanes); and of course, Orson Welles’ himself. While the fraud of the first two are easy enough to distinguish, Welles’ fraud is concerned with cinema. He says that he’s no better than de Hory who forges paintings since, throughout this film, he’s been splicing together documentaries about these people, rendering a completely different context under which to understand them.

At one point he even asks us what it means for our time when people like these fakers can only make it through trickery. At another point, I think it was de Hory who said that if he told an expert that his painting was not a real so-and-so, the expert would agree saying that it is not at all in the real style of the original creator, while in the same breath, if he told the “expert” that a certain painting was real, he would agree. In essence, this so-called expert was faking it too! So I think that what we can take away from this is that truth is a very elusive and relative thing. Even in the very act of watching this film, we can’t be sure that what we are shown is real. Though “F for Fake” is a somewhat difficult movie to wrap one’s head around, nonetheless it’s a nice one to watch since the movie itself is an example of the very topics it takes on.

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