I had a hard time deciding whether or not I should try to write about Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Blissfully Yours /≥ mnbv. It was such a moving cinematic experience that I felt an obligation to share my appreciation of the film with anyone who would listen, but on the other hand I feel like trying to reduce the experience in to a few paragraphs on with my less than stellar writing ability would be a sin and an insult to its poetic beauty. I decided to go with a happy middle ground and express my appreciation without attempting to articulate anything about the viewing experience.
Browsing: NP Approved
La Notte follows a married couple through the day and the night that they finally realized that their love was dead. The day starts with the confrontation of mortality as they visit a dying friend in the hospital. This visitation fuels realizations in the wife and adds kindling to old fires that had long since died. She can see clearly for the first time the emptiness of their lifestyle and the complete disappearance of the love that had slowly eroded over the course of many years and many champagne soaked book release parties. She spends the rest of the evening in an isolated soul search seeking out the old haunts where love used to be tangible and in the pursuit of some sort of stimulation that might rekindle the dead passion in their lives. The passion had already been dead for a long time, she just finally came to the penultimate realization.
Not many filmmakers create their own universe in which their characters can live and breathe in accordance with a wholly unique vision. Sometimes the best directors pull this off and revisit the world of their own creation throughout their oeuvre. Tsai Ming-Liang has synthesized such a world and though it runs parallel to our own there is a sense of impending change that permeates his. The characters drift through the ruins of a civilization that they clearly don’t belong to and try to make sense of the basic concepts of human connection through the sterile concrete landscapes and humming fluorescent lights of a bygone era. They have all of the outward traits of humans but one gets the impression that they are waiting for something. They are waiting for water, waiting in quiet desperation for human connection, waiting for the next phase in human evolution (or devolution). They make no attempts of expediting the inevitable transition nor do they fully comprehend what lies ahead but they wait in silent acceptance and unquantifiable understanding that it is on the way.
“Who dare say the leafless garden is not beautiful?” Love may lose its fervor as time passes and we become more cynical and world weary, but is it any less beautiful than love that is in the springtime of its genesis? Does it matter if we are crushed by the harsh realities of existence and no longer believe in the possibility of all things? If the value of art is solely identified by the subjective interpretation of the observer then is there not an intrinsic beauty in all things?
Blow Out is one of those love letters to cinema that can only be pulled off by a cinematic talent like Brian De Palma. He is paying homage to a wealth of films that came before, but he does so in a wholly original way. He takes elements of Antonioni, Coppola, and Hitchcock and distills them in to a unique work that is entirely his own. It isn’t just the technical elements that make a De Palma film distinguishable from the films it is paying tribute to, but a frequency that resonates through his entire body of work. This frequency is driven by his infectious passion for thrillers and popcorn cinema. It permeates his work with visual homage, shared plot elements, and sound design that act as callbacks to firmly established thriller tropes while maintaining a unique and fresh vision.
Seen in a single sitting, a film like this, with all its branching paths and anecdotal asides, all its subterranean currents and linked characters, the whole verbal spill of the thing, all of it plunges down on us as the running time nears its final minutes, our journey as viewers culminating in our opportunity to stand amidst an ocean of unremitting narrative and realize that we have become surrounded by another world and have lost sight of our regular lives, the faces and events that have marked our progress a fictional fog that envelops our bodies.
The horse is immense. It drags the carriage against the perpetual wind, its eyes agitated and delirious, each step perhaps its last, and yet it keeps moving, muscles tensing and relaxing as it gallops to the portentous rhythm of hypnotic music that rises in volume and madness as its sinister vibrations signal the tremors of a fading world.
If the quality of a work of art is measured in part by the degree to which it transcends its medium, then, even against the context of 35 years of admiration, Martin Scorsese’s widely beloved Taxi Driver may actually qualify as under-appreciated. It’s a seemingly absurd notion, but consider the dramatic divergence in fortunes between the original negative – the film’s literal medium – and the images and ideas contained thereon. While the original elements have deteriorated to such an extent that Sony Pictures required over a year to achieve a lavish 4K restoration, in terms of cultural significance and thematic resonance, Taxi Driver hasn’t aged a day.
This film is soaked in the cool machismo of its characters. It flows like a clever turn of phrase, like punchy slang, like a barrage of adjectives. It gestures with street-savvy swagger. The camera flies, stops, stares, makes ironic commentary with an angle or a lengthened take.
Have you ever peered deep into the eyes of a parent or grandparent and thought about the life they had long ago? A life before kids; before grandkids. A life you’ll probably never know. For most, that look has nothing to hide, but for others the life they once lived and the atrocities once witnessed will forever be etched into the complexion of their faces. You understand that these are moments of their past that to bring up now would only evoke sorrow. But what if you did find out? And what if what you found out was something you’d rather have not of known in the first place?