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.

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.

1 Comment »

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.

Quote Unquotesee all »

“When books become a thing, they can no longer be fine.

“Literary people get mad at Knausgård the same way they get mad at Jonathan Franzen, a writer who, if I’m being honest, might be fine. I’m rarely honest about Jonathan Franzen. He’s an extremely annoying manI have only read bits and pieces of his novels, and while I’ve stopped reading many novels even though they were pretty good or great, I have always stopped reading Jonathan Franzen’s novels because I thought they were aggressively boring and dumb and smug. But why do I think this? I didn’t read him when he was a new interesting writer who wrote a couple of weird books and then hit it big with ‘The Corrections,’ a moment in which I might have picked him up with curiosity and read with an open mind; I only noticed him once, after David Foster Wallace had died, he became the heir apparent for the Great American Novelist position, once he had had that thing with Oprah and started giving interviews in which he said all manner of dumb shit; I only noticed him well after I had been told he was An Important Writer.

“So I can’t and shouldn’t pretend that I am unmoved by the lazily-satisfied gentle arrogance he projects or when he is given license to project it by the has-the-whole-world-gone-crazy development of him being constantly crowned and re-crowned as Is He The Great American Writer. What I really object to is this, and if there’s anything to his writing beyond it, I can’t see it and can’t be bothered. Others read him and tell me he’s actually a good writer—people whose critical instincts I have learned to respect—so I feel sure that he’s probably a perfectly fine, that his books are fine, and that probably even his stupid goddamned bird essays are probably also fine.

“But it’s too late. He has become a thing; he can’t be fine.”
~ Aaron Bady

“You know how in postproduction you are supposed to color-correct the picture so everything is smooth and even? Jean-Luc wants the opposite. He wants the rupture. Color and then black and white, or different intensities of color. Or how in this film, sometimes you see the ratio of the frame change after the image begins. That happens when he records from his TV onto his old DVCAM analog machine, which is so old we can’t even find parts when it needs to be repaired. The TV takes time to recognize and adjust to the format on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Whether it’s 1:33 or 1:85. And one of the TVs he uses is slower than the other. He wants to keep all that. I could correct it, but he doesn’t want me to. See, here’s an image from War and Peace. He did the overlays of color—red, white, and blue—using an old analog video effects machine. That’s why you have the blur. When I tried to redo it in digital, I couldn’t. The edges were too sharp. And why the image jitters—I don’t know how he did that. Playing with the cable maybe. Handmade. He wants to see that. It’s a gift from his old machine.”
~ Fabrice Aragno