Where have you been, Bollywood?

22 05 2013

I think I’ll have myself a Bollywood film fest, courtesy of 3 Idiots:

Funeral Parade of Roses

29 08 2012

Synopsis: I really don`t know how to describe this film, so I`ll take the synopsis from imdb, which still doesn`t quite cover everything in this film:

The trials and tribulations of Eddie and other transvestites in Japan.

Super awesome things: this film isn’t for everyone.  It is, especially in the first half of the film, very experimental, partly due to the non-linear structure.  I found myself going, “???!???!?!?” for a lot of the time.  But then things start to make sense as it goes along, and a clear(ish) story begins to emerge from the confusion, through the mud.  It’s only after the film is done that you can really digest everything you’ve seen as a great work of art.  And a great work of art this film is.

There are moments of great comedy choices, like when Eddie and Leda are fighting and they exchange single-line insults to each other via speech bubbles, like a comic strip.  The effect is cartoonish, which is exactly the mood Matsumoto was probably going for — that these senseless fights are childish.  I actually also really liked how the film is structured, despite its confusing quality.  The way it’s edited is also impressive, and the sense of foreboding mystery, that something really twisted is just lurking beneath the surface is all-too palpable.  Funeral Parade of Roses is a film that makes you think, that gives out the pieces and you’re not even sure what the picture is supposed to look like.  But as you fit the pieces together, the picture gets clearer, and it’s a picture that you, unfortunately, know.  That’s really the best analogy I can give to this film.

Not so awesome things: the confusion is certainly something to consider, but really, the narrative is through Eddie’s eyes, and thoughts, as everyone knows, are not linear.  They are fragmented, jumping from random thought to random memory.  I would have to watch this at least once more to really understand the film’s nuances (and watch the ending, since at the screening, the disk was damaged and we didn’t get to watch the ending), so I don’t really have much to say.  There was one sequence when the music was played at ear-splitting levels, and I’m not sure if that was because of the projector or if it was the film, but that wasn’t pleasant.

Good for watching: for a film class on queer films (this was made in 1969).

Overall: fascinating experimental take on a tragic story, loaded with symbolism.

Grade: A

“Los vestidos desarrgados” — Alberto Iglesias

2 04 2012

Working in a theatre has allowed me to watch the credits of all the films that screen at our little theatre.  I may not have any time to watch the actual movies themselves, but I can tell you exactly what happens during the end credits, knowledge which is by and large useless (unless there’s a scene at the end and I can spoil it for someone, which is always fun).  Cleaning up to the credits of The Skin I Live In was really cool because I actually got to listen to intense, fantastic music of Alberto Iglesias, who wrote the score for the film.  I love how frantic and dramatic it is, which fits perfectly with the tone and plot of the film (I did manage to see this one, albeit at a second-run theatre after it had exited our cinema).  It’s interesting that Iglesias’s score for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was nominated for an Oscar and not this one.  I do think Tinker Tailor was much more subtle, as the film itself is quite an engrossing, quiet film, but man, sometimes it’s just fantastic to hear something so dramatic and exciting as this one.  And all played by strings too.

La langue oublié

28 03 2011

I wrote this just now and it’s really really rough.  Lo siento para la falta de los accentos.  Soy haragan y tengo mucho hacer.

La langue oublié

A veces, quiero escribir
o aun hablar
en frances.
Pero solamente las nubes violetas
caben en la mente.

Todas las puertas abren a las palabras espanol
y lo que quiero decir es sobre,
sobre las raices de la tierra.

Y despues de todo mi fuerza,
dispare con un fusil una cosa
que cae del cielo.
Dice, “Le langue oublié.  Tu te souviens?”

Patrik Age 1.5

18 01 2011

There are some godawful gay-themed films out there.  The list is so long and, frankly, kind of shameful that they ever had a budget that I won’t mention any titles.  But every once in a while, there comes a decent film, semi-popular amongst the gays.  For the last few years, it’s been Shelter, Were the World Mine, and last year, it was Undertow.  Although Patrik Age 1.5 is a 2008 film, it somehow seems to have been left somewhere in the background of other gay films.

Which is a shame because it’s one of the best gay-themed films I’ve seen.

Patrik tells the story of a gay couple living in Sweden who have moved into the suburbs to try and start a family.  They’re on the waiting list to adopt a child and when an offer arrives, they grab the chance.  Unfortunately, there’s been a typo on the form (see how critical proper grammar is??) and they take in a 15 year old homophobic deliquent. Lots of room for laughs there.

What makes the film so remarkably good is that it feels real.  While watching, I was pleasantly surprised at how realistic all the characters were.  Some of the best characterization I’ve seen!  The acting, is also really top-notch and certain scenes are really emotional and moving.

You can probably guess the ending of Patrik Age 1.5 but in a way, it fits into everything in the film.  What could have been an extremely corny, cliched film with stereotypical characters reveals itself to be much, much more than that.  Fantastic film.

Grade: A

Patrik Age 1.5 poster

Patrik Age 1.5 poster


20 08 2010

Undertow (Contracorriente)

Synopsis: It’s the end of Brokeback Mountain meets Ghost (as Xtra West accurately put it).  A married and soon-to-be father fisherman in a Peruvian town deals with the loss of his lover who comes back as a ghost (and not the creepy, scary kind).

Super awesome things: The fantasy aspect of Undertow is what grabbed and hooked me first.  When Santiago, Miguel’s lover, appears at his house and tells him, “I was in the ocean… the undercurrent got me…” I think it’s safe to say everyone’s attention to the film jumped up significantly.  It’s such a twist in plot — because during the first 20 minutes of the film, it seems to be about Miguel’s secret affair with Santiago and how he’ll deal with his loss when Santiago moves away — but it becomes much, much more than that.  Sure, Santiago dies, but he doesn’t really die: he only is visible to Miguel, and only when Miguel thinks of him or calls out for him.  Miguel believes the only way to get his spirit at rest is to perform a traditional Peruvian funeral, complete with releasing the body into the ocean.  The conflict here develops naturally — the more time he spends with Santiago, the more they fall in love (again), and the harder it is for him to let Santiago go, especially when he does come across his body.  Also in conflict is their whole secret affair, and when rumours start to fly that the mysterious painter (Santiago) has artwork of naked Miguel in his house, Miguel’s life is shattered.  Complete with heart-wrenching performances, particularly from Cristian Mercado who plays Miguel, as well as excellent supporting performances from Tatiana Astengo, Miguel’s wife, and Manolo Cardona as the fisherman’s ghostly lover.

There is stunning cinematography of beaches, waves, and the ocean (of course).  But perhaps most interesting, at least to me, was the fantastic use of music in the film.  I’ve read from various places that the best film music is when you don’t notice, and in Undertow, I barely noticed.  It’s very subtle and has the perfect combination of coming in the right parts and of course fitting exactly with what’s happening on-screen. And the ending, though very sad, was the right ending and fit perfectly.

Not so super awesome things: Though not entirely needed, the film doesn’t explain why Miguel is the only one who can see Santiago, nor if any other spirits are also trapped on the island.  I also really wanted to see if Santiago would show up on the photos they took together!  Gah.  That’s just me being picky though because I don’t have much criticism for this film.  I guess I would’ve liked to really be shown just how much Miguel loves Santiago, even though he tells Tiago that he’s a “man” and that he’s macho, so of course he can’t be gay.  We do get him crying, which is nice but… well, I guess that fits in with his character.  I just debated with myself and lost.  Never mind.

Good for watching: if you want to believe that not all ghosts are evil and scary but super hot and you can have sex with them and no one will see.

Overall:  Very well done, and most likely the best and my favourite film out of this year’s Queer Film Festival.  I really hope writer/director Javier Fuentes-León goes far with this, and judging its good reception at Sundance, I think he just might.

Grade: A

The Last Waltz — Oldboy soundtrack

8 08 2010

I had a dream last night where I was playing clarinet to this piece so it seems like I should write a little about it.  Basically, I was in high school again and I was trying out a bunch of different clarinets and when I picked mine up, the tip was a little broken, which isn’t that uncommon but obviously it’s better not to play with a broken reed.  Then the orchestra started playing “The Last Waltz”, a piece from the soundtrack to the movie Oldboy, and since there’s a clarinet solo in it, I had to play it.  Unfortunately, I haven’t played in a long time so I didn’t know the right fingering for the notes, if at all any, but I knew how it should’ve sounded

Anyway, I realized that dream wasn’t very interesting and I should just post the thing.  Okay here it is.

Saturday Morning Documentary: Paul Merton in China

16 07 2010
The funny Paul Merton

The funny Paul Merton

Who’s Paul Merton?  Well, for those of us North Americans, he is well-known in England as a comedian/occasional actor and his travels in China are unique and interesting, to say the least.  His goal was to explore China the unconventional way, avoiding the typical tourist attractions like the Great Wall to get a glimpse of the true heart of the country.  Merton’s charm and humor draw viewers in every episode and he serves as the perfect host for the series.  With only 4 episodes of his travels in China, he still manages to do quite a lot — from eating exotic and strange cuisine like a donkey’s penis in the first episode to buying a pair of fighting crickets that escape on the train to visiting a Shaolin temple complete with martial arts-practicing monks.

What makes this series unique is the people he meets along the way who are full of heart, full of stories that we never see in other travel shows.  The villagers in rural China who have lived that way are unsure of their children’s future as urban areas expand and cover their land is a sad an unfortunate situation — the traditional and the modern way in conflict.  Because it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series, I can’t fully recall all the things Paul does and all the people he meets but I can say that this is a fun, humorous series — like a B-sides disc to the more well-known album.  A definite favourite of mine to watch for the beautiful landscape and to take a look at the China people rarely, if ever, see.