Film Essent Archive for August, 2009

One Love

What did my fingers do before they held him?
What did my heart do, with its love?
I have never seen a thing so clear.
His lids are like the lilac-flower
And soft as a moth, his breath.
I shall not let go.
There is no guile or warp in him. May he keep so.

–Sylvia Plath, “Three Women”
In Sylvia Plath’s poem “Three Women,” the poet wrote about labor and birth from three perspectives: a woman who loves and wants her baby; a woman who has a stillbirth, and a woman who has a child she doesn’t want and gives up for adoption. It’s one of my favorite of Plath’s works, because it’s so very perceptive in exploring each woman’s experience with childbirth.
I can’t say whether D.J. Matrundola’s short film One Love was influenced by Plath’s poem, but it does follow a similar structure as it follows four women through life-changing events, very loosely weaving their stories together: an excited couple, soon to be parents, captures their life-changing moments on a camcorder; a man helps a troubled woman who goes into labor in a bar, and gets more than he bargained for; an expectant couple deals with loss; and a couple arriving at the hospital to pick up their adopted infant finds that fate has a spin in store for them.
It would be easy for this material to cross the line into Lifetime Movie of the Week territory, but Matrundola explores each story without exploiting, keeping the melodrama reined in as the stories and emotions intersect. This is a 14-minute short, not a feature, which doesn’t allow Matrundola much time to explore the individual stories, and yet the film is well-structured enough that it almost doesn’t matter. He’s telling a story with poetry instead of prose here, and while I’d like to see an expanded feature-length version of the film to see where he might go with it, it’s very good as it is.
You can see the trailer for One Love here; it premieres September 10 in Montreal, and has been submitted to some fests, so keep an eye out for it at a festival near you.

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The Lovely Bones: Too Lovely?

Over on the Guardian’s Film Blog, they’re asking the question “does the trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones seem a touch too lovely?” The issue being raised seems to be whether Peter Jackson’s take on the afterlife in which the murdered teen Susie Salmon finds herself looks too pretty for the grim subject matter.
The folks who’ve commented on the post thus far clearly liked Alice Sebold’s book on which the film is based much less than I did. I’ve been looking forward to this movie forever, and I love the look of the trailer. Saiorse Ronan (Atonement) who plays Susie, seems to be spot-on perfect for this part, and from what we see of the afterlife part of the film, I think it looks great.
The Guardian post notes, “Furthermore the spectacular depiction of Susie’s limbo existence takes the movie into a fantasy realm reminiscent of the work of Terry Gilliam, although the suggestion that a terrible death can lead to a place of wonder and joy is itself at the very least potentially facile, at worst, repugnant.”
Uh, what? Why would it be facile, or worse, repugnant, to depict the afterlife of a murdered girl as a place of wonder and joy? Does the author of the piece feel that if a person dies by being horribly murdered, wherever their soul goes to beyond this life must necessarily be some grim, horrific place? That a 14-year-old girl who’s brutally murdered must be condemned to some torturous afterlife to further prolong the ugliness of what happened to her? Wouldn’t depicting Susie’s afterlife in that way be even MORE repugnant? I’m just saying.

Watch the trailer yourself
and see what you think.

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Hiatus

I’m taking a brief hiatus for a couple weeks to take care of some family stuff with my dad. I’ll be back in late August.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many recappers, while clearly over their heads, are baseline sympathetic to finding themselves routinely unmoored, even if that means repeating over and over that this is closer to “avant-garde art” than  normal TV to meet the word count. My feed was busy connecting the dots to Peter Tscherkassky (gas station), Tony Conrad (the giant staring at feedback of what we’ve just seen), Pat O’Neill (bombs away) et al., and this is all apposite — visual and conceptual thinking along possibly inadvertent parallel lines. If recappers can’t find those exact reference points to latch onto, that speaks less to willful ignorance than to how unfortunately severed experimental film is from nearly all mainstream discussions of film because it’s generally hard to see outside of privileged contexts (fests, academia, the secret knowledge of a self-preserving circle working with a very finite set of resources and publicity access to the larger world); resources/capital/access/etc. So I won’t assign demerits for willful incuriosity, even if some recappers are reduced, in some unpleasantly condescending/bluffing cases, to dismissing this as a “student film” — because presumably experimentation is something the seasoned artist gets out of their system in maturity, following the George Lucas Model of graduating from Bruce Conner visuals to Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting.”
~ Vadim Rizov Goes For It, A Bit

“On the first ‘Twin Peaks,’ doing TV was like going from a mansion to a hut. But the arthouses are gone now, so cable television is a godsend — they’re the new art houses. You’ve got tons of freedom to do the work you want to do on TV, but there is a restriction in terms of picture and sound. The range of television is restricted. It’s hard for the power and the glory to come through. In other words, you can have things in a theater much louder and also much quieter. With TV, the quieter things have to be louder and the louder things have to be quieter, so you have less dynamics. The picture quality — it’s fine if you have a giant television with a good speaker system, but a lot of people will watch this on their laptops or whatever, so the picture and the sound are going to suffer big time. Optimally, people should be watching TV in a dark room with no disturbances and with as big and good a picture as possible and with as great sound as possible.”
~ David Lynch