8 1/2 – CANLAS, Punky

It was quite interesting to know (before it being shown in class) that the title 8 1/2 had nothing to do with the film itself. Just like Brazil, I ended up formulating possible stories in my head, linking them to their respective titles. However, unlike Brazil, 8 1/2 did not seem to disappoint me. It became even more interesting to me once I read up online, and found out about how this was entitled as such because it was the director, Fellini’s 8 1/2 film made. Although this was an old, black-and-white film in a different language (Italian); I honestly enjoyed watching it. Also, this reminded me so much of Masculin Feminin with regards to their technical aspects. I found 8 1/2 to be such a glamorous movie; the actors, settings, and wardrobe for the whole film brought nothing but class to the wide screen. When I think about the film more, though; it ends up losing the glamour in the weighty issues addressed throughout the story.

Having said that, I move on to the issues; and first off is that Fellini made Guido, the lead male character, a man full of lies – with his work, promising people things he ends up not doing, hiding his affair from his wife, etc. Having mentioned lying, next comes the issue of infidelity. We have seen this in a number of the films shown to us; specifically Eyes Wide Shut, and Inland Empire. In 8 1/2, it was pretty obvious that Guido was having an affair with the woman he fetched from the train station, him having to “hide” her in a separate hotel from his only made the cheating even more evident, and do not even get me started on the bedroom scenes. Unfortunately, his wife already seemed to have a clear idea as to what he has been hiding from her; and what annoys me most with regards to this is that even in the scene where they were seated outside the hotel (and the other woman comes along and sits at a separate table), he still would not admit to having an extramarital affair. Lastly, I noticed that religion was a recurring issue in 8 1/2. Scenes from Guido’s childhood were shown, studying in a school run strictly by priests. Although I do not agree to the idea, I like how Fellini presented the devil in the image/form of Saraghina; giving the notion of lust being an evil thing. A line that did strike me was when one of the priests mentioned that “there is no salvation outside the church.”

Dreams are also a weighty factor in 8 1/2 and its plot, just like a number of films we have already seen in class. In fact, the opening of the film showed us Guido’s dream. He was trying to free himself from being trapped inside his car, which was also trapped in a traffic jam. From my understanding, this dream reflects (or symbolizes) how the lead character may be “trapped” in reality; especially with regards to how he is sort of “constrained” by his marriage to do whatever he wants, and how he found it hard to complete the film he was making. After browsing some more on 8 1/2, I was pretty shocked to have read that Fellini made the film as some sort of “biography” of himself.

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Inland Empire – CANLAS, Punky

Hearing the introduction given to us before the film Inland Empire was shown – with the trauma from the previous film still lingering within me – only made me expect nothing but the worst from what we were about to watch. I decided to follow the advice given to us, focus more on the images presented rather than the words being said. Everything about this film confused me, and all that was taking place seemed to go by extra slow. I left class in a daze; and although I have yet to experience acquiring a really bad LSD hit (ha-ha just kidding), I am pretty sure that watching Inland Empire is even more damaging than this. Having said that, I did not enjoy one bit of the movie, and do not plan on seeing (or talking about) Inland Empire ever again.

There were two elements to this film that I did not understand at all; First, the “bunny show.” I did not understand how this was, in any way, related to everything else in Inland Empire. The only thing we did know was that this was a sort of sitcom.  Next, the scene/s wherein this unnamed woman is watching a television show, and in the end, reunites with her family. I am not really sure if her evident misery had to do with how the program she was watching affects or “touches” her, but I am quite confident that this also had to do with not being with her family. Also, I kept wondering whether the main movie (with Nikki and Devon) was just something on television as well, and not “real” at all (meaning that Inland Empire was a film within a film.. Within a tv show?).

Moving on, I know I said the film totally confused me, but there were still parts/scenes I could connect to each other, and kind of made sense. First, this only made sense to me by the middle of the film, but the creepy Polish lady who visited gave Nikki some sort of foreshadowing as to what may happen to her once she gets the part she auditioned for. During that particular scene, I was so creeped out, I almost stepped out of class because I did not think what the lady was saying made sense anyway. However, I stayed and (as the film progressed) realized that the woman being talked about in the lady’s little “story” was Nikki; and how she, if not careful of her actions, could face grave consequences. Next, it was very well shown that the “actions” mentioned previously has to do with infidelity. We do not just see this between Sue and Billy, but also Nikki and Devon. The main consequence would obviously have to do with getting caught. Lastly, it became clear at some point that Nikki “lost herself” in her character, Sue. There were scenes shown wherein she would say something, then realize that this sounded like something from the script they had. The line between reality (Nikki) and fantasy (Sue) was getting blurry. In the end, I believe this drove her insane.

To end this, I would like to share that the only scene that truly stuck to me from Inland Empire was that of when Nikki was dying on the sidewalk; and the homeless lady and couple did not care to help her out at all. It was funny how they were able to carry on with their very shallow conversation (which was going nowhere) despite the graveness of the situation they were in, but this was more of an annoying kind of funny. Finding out that this scene was just an act annoyed me even more.

Eyes Wide Shut – CANLAS, Punky

My first encounter with the film Eyes Wide Shut is when I saw a feature of the leading lady, Nicole Kidman, on E! (not sure if it was for E! True Hollywood Stories). Here, she talks about how it was working on such a controversial movie with her (then) husband, leading man Tom Cruise. Unfortunately, my viewing of this was cut short because my mom came in and saw the explicit scenes being flashed on my television screen. Moving on; I did not quite listen to the introduction given before Eyes Wide Shut was shown in class, but basing my judgement from what I have seen from the short clips shown during the feature I mentioned earlier, I had this whole idea that the film was about sex. However, as the film progressed, I realized that the plot was not just about sex per se, but of trying to save a crumbling marriage. Eyes Wide Shut, admittedly, was pretty easy (but very slow) to follow at the beginning. A pretty well-off family living in Manhattan, the couple attends a party, both kind of flirt around with other people; but once they get back home, the subject of infidelity was introduced, and that was when the whole film started getting weird. To be completely honest, Eyes Wide Shut was one of the most disturbing films I have seen not only in class, but in my entire life so far. I have no plans of watching it again.

The couple’s “bedroom scene” was for me, the unfolding of many truths, and the introduction of the film’s main conflict. They get in a heated argument, and this lead to Alice Harper (Nicole Kidman) confessing her deepest fantasy – having a sexual affair with a navy officer (?) whom she saw at a hotel they stayed in. When I took some time to think about this scene, I realized that the moment they were in kind of breaks the social belief where it is more likely for a man to commit adultery (than a woman). Which of course, may not be entirely true (I do not really know), but that is what a number of people believe. Having said that, this image stuck in Bill Harper’s (Tom Cruise) mind throughout the film – seeing his wife having sexual intercourse with another man. That particular thought was a recurring image until the end of the film, and was the main “hall pass” for Bill to do the same – or worse, commit adultery for real.

I did not entirely understand the need for the makers of the movie to include such a graphic orgy scene (I am pretty sure that was more that just one scene), but again, I thought about it and came to a conclusion that this served as a weighty test of loyalty for Bill. The two models at the party, Domino the prostitute, Domino’s roommate, the orgy cult group, and even the daughter of the costume store all served as “temptation” for the character to commit infidelity. In the end, I guess all that Bill Harper experienced that long night was enough to have him running back to his wife, and telling her “everything” (this was not shown, though). The end of the film is kind of questionable, though. As to whether or not they TRULY resolved their issues.

Masculin Feminin – CANLAS, Punky

Masculin Feminin is definitely something I would not normally watch mainly because it is a pretty old production, and being that this is a French film, it is not in English. However, unlike some of the posts I have read so far, I seem to have found this film to be “okay.” Just like a couple of movies we have seen in class so far, the stories in Masculin Feminin are also told in chapters; however, these chapters don’t necessarily fall into correct order – reminds me of Inglourious Basterds, as well as F for Fake!

Evidently, the theme of the film revolves around the youth during the time it was set (1960s, I suppose?); and in a way, connects to present viewers through the different subjects and issues it presents. First of the subjects, and probably the most prominent of all, is love – as well as sexuality. This is pretty self-explanatory, we see it throughout the film.  Next is racism, shown in the scene where Paul and his friend were on the train, heading to Madeleine’s place. Finally, there is rebellion; being that Masculin Feminin was set during the “chaos” between the United States and Vietnam, we were able to catch a glimpse of youth rebellion (as well as opposition) – if I’m not mistaken, against the USA. Having said all that, this film obviously presses on the issue of politics. One of the scenes from the film that struck me most was that of when the young beauty queen (I’m not sure of her “title”) was being interviewed; she mentioned that she would rather have material wealth than to finish her education, also that she would rather move to the US (than be a socialist) because she believed that women there had “bigger roles,” and that she had a bigger chance of being somebody. In some way, this reminded me of Repo Man, and the issue of consumerism.

When I got to ponder more on Masculin Feminin, I saw the irony of the title vis-a-vis the main characters, Paul and Madeleine. For one, when we read or hear the word “Masculine,” we are reminded of the alpha male who gets things done. Let’s be real, Paul is nothing like the idea of an “alpha male.” He’s pretty passive throughout the film, just going with the flow of his life. On the other hand, Madeleine is given the image of an “active” persona. Pretty much the opposite of the average female during that time; she has dreams, a goal, and ambition. The other thing I noticed were the random deaths of random people throughout the film. I had this “theory” while watching the film; we saw so much of the love/marriage/sexuality issues even at the beginning of Masculin Feminin – pretty shallow “conflicts” if you ask me – and I just thought that these random deaths that took place might have something to do with how there are so much graver problems in society besides those bothering the main characters, besides those I have mentioned earlier. It made me happy to see, once I saw the discussion posted on Piazza, that my “theory” actually had some truth to it and made some sense.

Repo Man – CANLAS, Punky

As much as I would hate to admit it, I really enjoyed watching Repo Man in class. It was my first time to see this, but I was immediately drawn to its “punk” theme — and no, my liking of this has nothing to do with my name being Punky. Honestly,  this film reminded me so much of the hit movie Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John — most probably because of the similar themes, costumes, and settings in which both take place. Adding to that, and this may seem quite odd, the film also seemed reminiscent of some of the late Michael Jackson’s music videos (specifically, the video of “Bad”) because of its punk-rebel story.

The story was pretty simple, and easy to follow; Otto, a “suburban punk” filled with teenage angst, was tricked into joining a car repossession group — then everything normal followed after that, until they found out about a car running around with a supposed “alien” stored in its trunk (shown during the beginning of the movie). Oh, and before I forget, everyone who opens the trunk to take a look at the “alien” eventually gets zapped into oblivion — one of the reasons why I liked Repo Man so much, even if the zapping (and many other effects in this movie) was extremely unrealistic. Without a doubt, Repo Man would probably make it into the top-3 of my Movies-with-Awful-Effects list (if such a list existed), but instead of being annoyed by this, I was actually entertained.

It was mentioned during our discussion that Repo Man was considered a cult film, and I did not understand why. However, when I took time to think about it (and read a bit into it), I guess such was said because of how the film was in relation to people and their obsession with material things — as said by some reviews, the human’s obsession with consumerism. That was when it all made sense to me; Otto’s parents glued to their television screen watching some religion channel, all those random air-fresheners, the generic-labelled products found in the stores, and even the cars in general — all are kind of human obsessions. A lot of this movie’s weight comes from how we (humans) not just in Repo Man, but also in real life, tend to get so immersed in the whole idea of consumerism. That we are all drowning in a pool of material possession, as well as obsession. From this, I was able to get why some online reviews talked about Repo Man being a film also related to religion. The want and need for all the material things shown in the film is too much, that these become objects of “worship” — in result, these become “sacred” to the consumer/person.

I’m not quite sure about how I understood the end of Repo Man, but seeing how Otto got in the car with Miller (the mechanic) sort of gave me this impression that they were the two (in the movie) who didn’t really get too caught up in the whole consumerism idea. It kind of seemed to me like they “left everything behind,” but I may be wrong. Repo Man was a pretty weird film, but I really enjoyed it.

Barton Fink – CANLAS, Punky

Barton Fink. As he was first shown during the start of this film, I expected a comedy – his stance was so awkward; and his face seemed quite funny-looking as well, mouthing every word being said by the actors on stage. Come to think of it, I guess in a way this was supposed to have some comedy injected into the film. Unfortunately, I found Barton Fink annoying, quite confusing, and in a way disturbing. I did, however, come to appreciate it by the end of the movie – the humor saved this film (for me) from being a complete dislike! From how I understood the film Barton Fink, the story and plot kind of revolved around how Fink is – figuratively, and maybe even literally – a prisoner trying to look for an escape. We can see this in the form of “imprisonment” he went through during his stay not just in Los Angeles in general, but also due to his contract with the picture company he worked for.

I guess the first quarter of the film was pretty easy to follow; Fink was a playwright in New York who got his big break, he was hired by a “picture company” in Los Angeles, then he found it difficult to write about something that wasn’t as familiar to him – particularly, a wrestling film. However, the twists and turns that came after this honestly started to confuse me, but I guess this was because I might have overanalyzed the possible symbols being presented in the story, particularly the objects in Fink’s hotel room. As the film was reaching its half, I felt like wanting to end it ASAP. Everything seemed to be “moving” so slow, and I guess the reason for this was the time it took to focus on certain things in the movie. For example, I noticed that there were so much awkward moments wherein there was nothing really happening (usually Fink was just seated on his bed or chair, thinking); or that too much time was being spent focusing on objects that the main character would see in his room – as mentioned earlier; the photo of the woman in the beach, the peeling wallpaper, and the mosquito. However, as we discussed the film in class, I did come to realize that these objects were in fact Fink’s distractions. Aside from not being used to writing about wrestling, these objects added up to his incapability with regards to finishing his script within the given timeframe.

In this film, there are a couple of instances I find quite ironic and funny. One would be how Fink talks about how his works are often based on, and taken from the lives of the “common man;” but as seen during his introductory scene with Charlie, he wouldn’t even stop to listen to what his neighbor (supposedly a common man) had to say. Plus, it’s annoying how Fink gets so worked up in what he’s saying – like he’s overflowing with passion. Moving on, I kind of noticed that whenever the lead would attempt to continue writing his script, Charlie comes in, and he is obliged to put this aside and entertain his guest. Last would be how Fink, while looking out into the ocean, comes across this woman walking along the beach then asks if she appears in pictures – when she does, although literally, in the picture he had in his hotel room!

As I’ve said earlier, this film was pretty confusing as I watched it in class – not to mention disturbing (the death of Audrey, and Charlie being a serial killer); but as I did mention earlier, the humor saved the film!

Brazil – CANLAS, Punky

So the third film shown in class was entitled “Brazil.” To be honest, as an introduction was being given prior to the showing of the film, what came into (my) mind was the country itself. I thought; wow, this movie might not be so bad! After all, I do enjoy watching films or any show in general which has a good setting – it gives you more to appreciate. However, I was quite disappointed to find out that the film had nothing to do with its title at all; well, except for the fact that the theme song was entitled Brazil.

Although I was quite disappointed over the misleading title, I still gave this film a chance. To start it all off, and I just realized this by the end of Brazil, I find it pretty funny that this entire story was shaped solely based from a mistake made by a fly. It figuratively caused a “bug in the system” (as discussed in class), therefore leading to the arrest and murder of an innocent Mr. Buttle, when it was supposed to be terrorist-plumber-Tuttle. I found this to be quite annoying, because nobody in that whole office bothered to double check if everything typed down was correct. However, I can’t complain – it was an accident, and it’s not like the fly did that on purpose.

Next observation; this was said to be set during the 20th century, however, it seemed more like a bad representation of a made-up future. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t how the United States (or the world in general) looked during that period of time. The so called “technology” they had was weird, and most of the time, didn’t work right. Another thing I noticed is that Brazil is also a movie that played with two things: reality and dreams – particularly with the character of Sam Lowry. For the first, everything in this film seemed to be an exaggeration of reality; the office, the services offered, the people, even the practice of plastic surgery. For the latter, we can see how Lowry floats in and out of consciousness; dreaming about being in an armor, flying around, and saving this girl from a giant robot made out of computer parts. From how I see this, the robot in his dreams becomes a metaphor of the current system he was in. Whenever he would kill this robot, he would be “killing the system” – something he wants to do in reality, probably. This gives me the idea that Sam Lowry’s dreams only showed how he wanted to be free of the system, free from his constraints; like the office, and maybe even his mother.

Unfortunately, I kind of noticed how by the end of the film, Lowry’s perception of reality and dreams started to crumble; and he started losing it, finding it difficult perhaps to decipher real from unreal. This didn’t just become hard for the main character, but also to me as a viewer. I didn’t know when the part I was watching was really happening to Lowry; just like how he was arrested in bed with his love interest, or when he was saved by Tuttle and the terrorists – when in the end, none of these really took place. It’s like every time I am presented with a happy ending, the film would take it all back. Then I realized the ending was pretty depressing after all.

All in all, I found the movie extremely exhausting mainly due to the exaggeration, and the turn of events – it was quite a lot to take in.

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