I’m Not There

I’m not There is probably my favorite film from the 10 films that we watched throughout the duration of the class.

Jude: I accept chaos. I don’t know whether it accepts me. 

Quotes such as these is what makes the film so interesting and fun. The attitude that Jude carried throughout the film is simply entertaining. The “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude. Please forgive my language for a moment.

Cate Blanchett’s performance was amazing. At first I did not recognize her at all. I thought she would appear as one of the lovers or possibly as one of the groupies or even one of the gatecrashers at the party. He portrayed a rockstar very well, it was just very unexpected to see her play a male character.

Reporter: Jude! One word for your fans?

Jude: Astronaut.

 

This made me laugh. For some reason, this line just exudes the rockstar attitude that I was talking about earlier. Even though Bob Dylan is an icon of music and I would like to think an icon of a movement and revolution, he still had an attitude of someone who seems like he doesn’t care.

 

Jude: Yeah it’s chaos, it’s clocks, it’s watermelons, it’s everything.

 

Random. Sporadic. Funny. Spontaneous. These are the attitudes I would like to imbibe, but I am not the rockstar in the picture. I was told that a job that was suited to any man should be a pilot, the president of the United States of America or a rockstart. I would love to become someone who could act like a rockstar and not care what others would do.

 

Jude: Doesn’t really matter, you know, what kind of nasty names people invent for the music. But, uh, folk music is just a word, you know, that I can’t use anymore. What I’m talking about is traditional music, right, which is to say it’s mathematical music, it’s based on hexagons. But all these songs about, you know, roses growing out of people’s brains and lovers who are really geese and swans are turning into angels – I mean, you know, they’re not going to die. They’re not folk music songs. They’re political songs. They’re already dead. You’d think that these traditional music people would – would gather that mystery, you know, is a traditional fact, you know, seeing as they’re all so full of mystery.

 

I am one who is passionate about music and to see someone describe music like this, it is actually inspiring. Hearing this was without a doubt something touching to an extent that I cannot really explain.

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Eyes Wide Shut

 

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, I would like to think, combine for a good filming couple. Their chemistry is undeniably impressive. With that said, I would have to attribute it to their marriage. I wonder thought how it would be like to work with your significant other in a film that is as intimate as Eyes Wide Shut. There were a lot of intimate scenes. One of which is a bed scene between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, it would seem odd to me that they had to expose such intimate details that are directly related to their personal relationship and yes, I am talking about sex.

Another interesting and disturbing fact is that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, as a married couple in real life, had to witness each other engaging in sensual acts that do not involve the other. I would definitely say that any human being would not feel comfortable in situations such as these. With that said, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are masters of their craft so they would know how to keep things strictly professional.

Now, I will move on to some facts about the actual film. The film was quite difficult to comprehend, but easy to connect event A to event B. Unlike Inland Empire, this actually made sense to me. The succession of the scenes of event A lead to the succession of the scenes that we experience in event B, this made it easier to follow.

However, there are scenes in which I was left a bit hanging on details and facts because things just didn’t add up. The most obvious one for me would be how the mask that Tom Cruise rented ended up beside Nicole Kidman on the bed. We were explicitly shown the scene where Tom Cruise seemingly securely hid the entire costume, from the coat, the shoes to the mask, in some sort of filing cabinet. We were never showed how Nicole Kidman ended up with the mask. Simply mysterious if you ask me.

Mysterious films like this are definitely entertaining for me. They excite the audience in a way that seduces them to wait for the next scene to reveal itself. This film however did not reveal the important fact that led Tom Cruise to reveal his exploits. That left me hanging. I would have liked to see that happen in order for me to come to a good closure with the film.

Inland Empire

Inland Empire. Without the smallest shadow of a doubt, this film is the most difficult film I have ever watched. Consider this an exaggeration, hyperbole or an overstatement, but I probably would have understood another film that was written in a totally different language that had no subtitles whatsoever. I could probably only understand such few solid facts about this film that I could count them on just one hand. It would be a tough task already naming those facts, but I will try.

First fact. I know that in the film that we watched, we were watching them shoot another film. That could easily be established because we know that the leading lady, Laura Dern, was a Hollywood movie star. They also stated it explicitly that they were shooting a film. We never really understood what kind of film this was or if they film was actually completed.

Second Fact. I know that Laura Dern’s film husband did not like the co-star, Justin Theroux that she had for the “film within the film” that they were shooting. The last scene I remember seeing Justin Theroux is the lovemaking scene that did not go so well. I think this was the turning point of the film from sane and understandable to difficult and out of this world. It was in this scene where Laura Dern sort of falls into some sort of trance and then loses track of what is real. This is precisely when the film becomes nearly impossible to grasp or understand.

Third Fact. The film that they were shooting within the film that we were watching is, in some odd way or another, is cursed. One supporting detail to this is the old lady, who I recall to be Polish, that talked to Laura Dern was very VERY creepy. The way the camera was so close to her face really made everyone feel very uncomfortable. She also goes on to talk about murder and asks if the new film that Laura Dern is shooting has any murder in it. This is definitely something no one can ignore or forget.  Another supporting fact is that the director of the film that they were shooting mentioned that they are shooting some sort of a remake and that the original film’s cast was killed. I guess you cannot get any more straight forward than that when it comes to stating facts.

These are all the facts I can say with all certainty. Everything else about the film, I would not be able to justify or give you any reason as to why they are.

Masculin Feminin

Jean Luc Godard, I think, is definitely an odd filmmaker, odd in a great way. Oddity does have its own charm when you see it through the right eyes. I think that madness and genius do come hand in hand, much like a package deal or a bundle of goodies, you can not just have one or the other, you have to take both. Masculin Feminin is a great manifestation of Godard’s madness and genius.

My first encounter with Jean Luc Godard’s work came in the form of a film called Une Femme est une Femme or in English A woman is a woman. I actually mistook the title of Masculin Feminin for Femme est une Femme so I was expecting it to be a film I have already seen. A woman is a woman is a film I did enjoy quite a bit. The plot is a bit odd, but like I said earlier, oddity does have its charm. The film was about this strip tease dancer who wanted to have a baby with her boyfriend. The boyfriend did not want to have this baby so he suggested that she should have it with his best friend. At the end of the film he convinces his girlfriend to fornicate and to have herself impregnated by his best friend, and she does just so, he realizes that he wants to be father of the baby so they make love in order for them to make sure that the boyfriend will become the father. Odd? Yes, I do say so.

I found a few interesting facts that are shared between these two films. One interesting fact, though terribly obvious, is that they are both about women. When I took a look at Jean Luc Godard’s biography I found out that he loves women. I am only assuming this because the man was married to three different women throughout his life. One of which is an actress who he casted multiple times. Her name is Anna Karina; she played the leading lady in Une Femme est une Femme. Another reason why I am assuming this is because one of his personal quotes goes something like this, “I don’t think you should FEEL about a movie. You should feel about a woman. You can’t kiss a movie.” This broke my first impression/assumption that he was some sort of feminist. The titles lead me to think that he could be an advocate of women empowerment, but the plots seem to be quite the opposite. Both films quite explicitly display how women are just subject to the male archetype of them being the decision makes and critical thinkers.

Repo Man

Repo Man is a film I do have a hard time trying to describe, this is so for many reasons. My experience cannot be summarized into one word or a single sentence. With that said I would still try my best to explain to you what it is about this movie that makes it hard to describe. However confused I might seem about this film, that does not mean I did not enjoy it. It is quite the opposite, I enjoyed it quite a bit as a matter of fact.

First thing that was eye-catching to me was that Emilio Estevez, portraying the role of Otto, was starring in it. Whenever I see Emilio Estevez I am reminded of coach Gordon Bombay from the Mighty Ducks films. I was hoping that he would suddenly initiate his other repo men friends into a team huddle with their hands in the middle and begin chanting, “Quack! Quack! Quack!” but no, it did not happen. Added to the fact that Repo Man was released 8 years prior to the first Might Ducks installment, it would definitely not happen. I still wanted it to happen so much though. I would have rolled on the floor laughing if it did. Although it did not happen, I still enjoyed the film. Since I instantly associate Emilio Estevez with the Mighty Ducks film, it is interesting to see him portray someone completely different. From peewee hockey coach to a juvenile delinquent repo man, the difference is drastic.

Another reason I enjoyed the movie is because I think I grew some of my roots in the soil of punk culture. I had a lengthy phase in my life wherein I associated myself with punk. I would listen to music by the Sex Pistols, Ramones and the much more contemporary Blink 182. In hindsight I would see myself as a rebel of sorts. Having this affiliation with punk definitely allowed me to associate with Otto. Having no real direction, having no real drive to do anything and having that “stick-it-to-the-man” attitude. Having said that, it is understandable at that age to go through a phase of angst, impatience and hormonal changes. Although I never gotten in too deep as Otto did, his character did somewhat reflect myself in a few ways. One is just being doubtful of almost everything; another would be looking for that “cool” older person to look up to, and also just extreme curiosity. All these things that I saw myself as, I saw in Otto, although some not so evident.

The movie, all in all, is weird, but that is what Punk is. Punk was something new and frightening when it was first introduced. The world Otto lived in is exactly that and seeing the parallelism is definitely enjoyable.

BRAZIL – SEWELL, Jonathan

Brazil is a film I did not fully understand. This is so for a good number of reasons. Although I did not understand it, that does not mean I did not appreciate it. Appreciating a film is very much different than understanding a film. From all the films we have viewed in class, it was the one I least understood. Allow me to explain myself but at the same time play the devil’s advocate and try to debunk my own arguments and explain why I appreciated it.

First reason for this is that there were a lot of unnecessary elements and props in the mise-en-scene. With that said, I think these were necessary. The film had many parts where in the characters had to fill up so and so form in so and so many number of copies for the simplest of things. Bureaucracy, that is what it’s all about, unnecessary formalities and procedures. I did find this quite humorous because it very much reflects our current society, be it local or national government even in our own university. To that, I say, “HAHA”.

Second, Robert De Niro or in the film he is known as Archibald Harry Tuttle. His character is what I would like to describe as sporadic. He appears at the most random moments in the film.  When we are introduced to Harry Tuttle, we do not even know who he is, all we know is that he fixes the air conditioning unit of Sam Lowry. At first, it seems like just the idea of his name is more important than his actual presence in the scenes because of the error made in the beginning of the film. And it is this tiny and extremely unfortunate mistake that drives the whole plot of the film. Then, although just in his imagination, Harry Tuttle becomes Sam Lowry’s hero. With all that said, it would be hard not to look at this whole movie as someone’s imagination. Everything in this film is odd, confusing and even, at some times, disturbing. One can not predict such moments of madness in this film, but given the whole setting and theme, one can not also be too surprised when such twists an turns do occur.

If I were to describe my viewing experience of this film in just one word, I would have to use the word flabbergasted. Everything about the film was overwhelming. Although I can not use the word is such positive light, that does not take away from the fact that I do appreciate the film for what it is.

F is for Fake- SEWELL, Jonathan

F is for Fake by Orson Welles is a film I would like to describe as, for a lack of a better word, challenging. Challenging in sense that there are many points in the film wherein I found it hard to believe that what Welles is telling us is even the least bit true. Challenging also if we were to think that what if everything he told us is absolutely true?

During the opening sequence Orson Welles says, “Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies. Tell it by the fireside or in a marketplace or in a movie, almost any story is almost certainly some kind of lie. But not this time. This is a promise. For the next hour, everything you hear from us is really true and based on solid fact.” The first 2 sentences alone tell me that something interesting will definitely happen through the duration of the film. He says the film is about lies and trickery that makes me question his following line when he says that everything from here on in is solid fact. He also says that we could “Tell it by the fireside or in a marketplace or in a movie”. When he says “it” I presume he’s talking about the lies and trickery. This is precisely what he did during the film. He’s telling the story to some people in a restaurant, and he’s telling it to us through the movie we’re watching. I definitely found this to be a brainteaser as well as misleading. 

Another quote I found very interesting through the film is this, “What we professional liars hope to serve is truth. I’m afraid the pompous word for that is “’art’”. Filmmakers are liars, creative liars. They tell us stories that are not real. Sure we come across the occasional film that is “based on actual events”, but those events, places and characters we see on screen can never be the actual events, places and characters that they aim to portray. It won’t go unsaid though that filmmakers such as Orson Welles are brilliant at what they do, and that is why they are professional liars. 

On the other hand, Orson Welles does present us with facts. The people he mentions in the film are actual people. Elmyr de Hory, Cliffor Irving and Oja Kodar, just to name a few, are or were actual people. Their stories that were told in the film were their actual stories. With that said, we can’t say that everything in this film is lie. The people I just mentioned did appear in the film.

What I guess, and I do say it only as a guess, Orson Welles wanted to make us think of what is actually true. How much of what he said was true? How much do we think we can believe is true? If my guess is correct and this was his goal, I say kudos to him. He definitely got me to think.

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