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.

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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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“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch

To me, Hunter S. Thompson was a hero. His early books were great, but in many ways, his life and career post–Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is a cautionary tale for authors. People expected him to be high and drunk all the time and play that persona, and he stuck with that to the end, and I don’t think it was good for him. I always sort of feel mixed emotions when I hear that people went and hung out with Hunter and how great it was to get high with Hunter. The fact is the guy was having difficulty doing any sustained writing at all for years probably because so many quote, unquote, “friends” wanted to get high with him … There was a badly disappointed romantic there. I mean, that great line, “This is where the wave broke, the tide rolled back … ” This was a guy that was hurt and disappointed and very bitter about things, and it made his writing beautiful, and also with that came a lot of pain.
~ Anthony Bourdain