Monday, December 13, 2010

Once (2006)

A movie for its music, to the ones who already love it ;)
Once shows us how one can shoot a very nice, touching movie with a nice story, a hand-held camera and a low-budget. The main characters are an Irish street musician (Glen Hansard, who is a musician in real life too) and a Czech immigrant (Markéta Irglová). These two sad and broken characters meet in Dublin streets and get through a nice, soaring story. The movie stops talking, it sings and you’re lost in the melody.I saw Once at a film festival with my music lover friend, having heard about the movie but without an expectation. At the end of it, we just loved the soundtrack. Then, after having chance to visit Dublin streets (love there btw!!), inhale some Irish air and getting lost in beautiful Irish landscapes, I watched it again with my boyfriend. If there is something I like about movies, I love seeing the city that I’ve been as the set of the movie. During my second experience with the movie, I was rather like “oh yeahhh, we passed that street one hour ago!!” :)
Btw, Dublin has a particular atmosphere as a city. Vivid and gloomy at the same time. Lovely and calm… Livable! Back to the movie, the story seems very simple and sounds like there can’t be a hit movie following this story. The performances are so amateur, but so improvised and sincere. The main male character, Glen Hansard is a long-time musician in real life, playing in the famous Irish band, The Frames . The director, John Carney was also playing in this band formerly ('91-'93), but then he starts to shoot music videos and low-budget movies.
The songs are the chief pieces of the game, and others are the pawns.
It shows us how success will follow by being sincere and more success will follow with such a splendid, heart-breaking soundtrack ;) e.g. Academy Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, Grammy nomination… The duo (Hansard and Irglová) formed a band called The Swell Season (love its name!) right after the movie success. They also covered Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" (such lyrics and melody!).
This is a precious musical album movie. You should go for it or, least you can, check the soundtrack!
Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You'll made it now

Friday, December 3, 2010

Il Conformista (1970)

Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 movie, The Conformist, is like going to a museum and watching the paintings of stylish imaginations, delightful representations. The movie itself has a large palette of themes from love to murder; sexuality to morality; melancholy to psychological disorder; loyalty to violence; lesbianism to homosexuality...
The shots of Il Conformista is a collective-artistic work of the director Bertolucci and the cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The camera angles, storytelling through diaphragm changes during the shot, all the colors, décor, costumes...everything is a deliberately designed piece of art in Il Conformista.
We watch a young Italian man, right before the fall of fascist Mussolini regime, devoted to the fascist party. He is charged with an assassination of a professor and he is ambitious to fulfill this mission. Through the flashbacks in the movie, we learn the dark stories of his past. We watch his trials to seem as a normal citizen and as a healthy young man, as if he loves, as if he feels a commitment to his beliefs, to the party, to his mission... However, the images of his past hunts him down through his story and as it is in the name of the movie, he conforms to the situation and to his past...
The effects of the end of a political regime (the fascist government) can be seen at the confusions in human lives and at the psychology of people.
Jean-Louis Trintignant performs the main character. I've seen him in a 1966 movie, Un Homme et Une Femme, directed by Claude Lelouch (you can find the movie review of Un Homme et Une Femme in my previous posts). When you see the difference between the character in that movie and in Il Conformista, you become certain that Trintignant is a brilliant actor!
After watching the movie, while I was reading, I learned that both Bertolucci and Storaro (cinematographer) were 29 years old at the shooting time of the movie. However, the movie seems much of an experienced artist work to tell the truth. The use of colors and camera angles are PERFECT.
The movie doesn't disobey the popular story concept of its era (1960s-70s), as it can be seen in all European filmography of that time. This period movies were generally one main man centered gangster-political movies and the main guys were usually in trouble, guilty and center of attraction of women... Jean-Claude Brialy's, Jean-Paul Belmondo's became famous during these years.
You can also notice Godard New Wave effects in the movie. There are no jump cuts maybe, but there are horizontally divided shots where there is movement and storytelling in both halves of the screen.
However, Il Conformista goes one step further than his period of movies by its stunning visual beauty; light and shadow harmony, colors, angles, focus adjustments; and at the end, you want to put these illusions into frames and hang on your wall :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Ninth Gate (1999)

I really LOVE watching hollywoodian actors in Europe! And 'The Ninth Gate' is one of them. You will see Johnny Depp as a book dealer. One day, a wealthy book collector asks him to authenticate an ancient satanic book of him. For this, he has to visit the owners of the two other copies that reside in Europe. There the journey starts! He goes to Portugal and France to see the owners of the other books.
The story goes a little mysterious here; however I wish they didn’t use this song which interrupts the movie from time to time, mostly in the second half and takes the movie from seriousness to a comedy level, makes it look like a cheap thriller...
I find the story nice, photography not too bad (especially I enjoyed short Portuguese shots). However, the movie lasts two hours which is too long and loses its excitement through the end. Also, the special effects are not good at all.
Johnny Depp carries his character successfully; however I cannot say the same thing for Emmanuelle Seigner (wife of Roman Polanski). Maybe it is the language to blame that it seems bizarre when she speaks or maybe she tried to give a mystic side to the character that she performs…
Another good thing in the movie is Lena Olin. I admire her beauty and I think she’s one of the very successful actors. I’ve seen her in an '88 movie, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, along with Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche and in The Reader (2008). Her performances are fascinating and so realistic.
I love the scenes where Depp speaks in French. In one of them, he talks to a baker:

Depp : Nous cherchons la maison de Mme st-martin.
Baker : Le château vous voulez dire?
Depp : Où est le château?

or with a restaurant owner
Depp : Mme! (showing the address at the back of a cardpostal) C'est où ça?
The Ninth Gate is one of those “cup of tea” movies, might go well at a boring snowy/rainy weekend when you don’t have anything to do, you can waste your two hours to see some holywoodians in Europe ;)


Coen Brothers - Fargo (1996)

Fargo is definitely one of my favorite movies. It’s a cult movie, one of everybody’s favorite. A crime-comedy of Coen Brothers, produced, written and directed by them. They are also within my favorite directors list. Even there is not much to say about their cinematography, after watching Fargo third time; I thought it is the right time to write about it.
Fargo is a combination of a great plot, memorable characters, nice soundtrack, exaggerated accents of North Dakota and Minnesota regions and snowy landscapes... The first part of the movie is like giving background information about the story: who is who, personalities of the characters, the cruel weather conditions of Minnesota and its freezing abandoned landscapes.

The second part of the movie, the part I love, starts with the appearance of Frances McDormand as the pregnant police officer who has to investigate the crimes.Frances McDormand is an astonishing actress and also got the Best Actress Academy Award for this role. She is also the wife of the director, Joel Coen. Once, when it is asked on how she got the role in this movie, she answers “The fact that I'm sleeping with the director may have something to do with it.” :) I saw her in other movies of Coen’s. In either way, she is a very successful character actress. She knows how to blend herself with the character realistically. Also, there is this consistency of the actors Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare. I can’t think of any better combination of these two actors to replace the two outlaw criminals.
Fargo doesn’t disappoint the usual expectations from a Coen movie. Everything, all of a sudden, goes in a terribly complicated way :)
And white images of the region saturate the screen with its melancholic and cruel music.
Fargo is a special, well written, well shot, virtually satisfying movie. Don’t miss it ! ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rushmore (1998)

If you are looking for an entertaining, refreshing, hilarious movie and if you want to be glad that you spend your time on it, I say you shouldn’t miss Rushmore ;)
Rushmore is another fantastic character study of Wes Anderson. If you haven’t met with his cinematography yet, you should try this movie first. There is this sharp and very colorful main character at the center of the movie, performed by Jason Schwartzman. You’ll remember Schwartzman in The Darjeeling Limited and Hotel Chevalier (both directed by Wes Anderson again) and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. He’s also cousins with Sofia Coppola and a musician, playing in a band called “Coconut Records” (check the songs 'West Coast' and 'Any Fun' !!! ;)).
There is also Bill Murray in this movie whom I admire in general and whom I think goes well in independent movies, in interesting, withdrawn, loser characters (like the one in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums and most of the Jim Jarmusch movies).
Rushmore is definitely one of my favorite independent movies now. Jason Schwartzman was only eighteen years old when he performed as the fifteen-year-old main character in this movie ('Max Fisher') which was his first acting performance! It is obvious that he got what Anderson was trying to give in this movie through this character 'Max'. Now, I feel like there is, somewhere, a person like him; it’s not a fiction, but a real story of 'Max' with an unending energy, curiosity, lots of emotion and looking for answers to his questions in adults’ world. Other than Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, supporting roles are very brilliant and well performed (Olivia Williams, Brian Cox...)
The soundtrack of the movie is very nice also. I love the part when "The Rolling Stones - I Am Waiting" and "Cat Stevens – Here Comes My Baby" appear at the background :)
Rushmore is a funny and a remarkable movie with a great screenplay, acting performance, soundtrack, imagination, decors and colors…
"When one man, for whatever the reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself." -Jacques Cousteau

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Alejandro González Iñárritu - Amores Perros (2000)

I've met Iñárritu’s cinematography through Babel (2006) and 21 Grams (2003) and I'm waiting impatiently for his Biutiful which will be in theatres this October (in France). However, I think Amores Perros will remain as my favorite. It’s a drama that captures you from its first scene and takes you deep to the dark sides of human nature. You want to stop the movie to breathe but you are sticked to your chair and make a journey to Mexican suburbs, see the violence, explore the unpleasant conditions of living, witness to disturbing bloody scenes and travel in real conditions of outskirts (not of a décor) with Iñárritu’s camera. Somehow, it appears as if it’s a sad documentary of a culture, of a group of individuals.
The film focuses on three lives that minimally linked to each other. The movie might have even been divided into three volumes, since it is a considerably long movie (two and a half hours) and sometimes losing its pace. However I think it would have been much boring, since this minimal overlapping gives the energy to the movie. The stories are heartbreaking, brutal, bloody and emotional. We see what people can do to earn money, how their characters can be corrupted and how they can even normalize killing other people to make a living.
I found the structure of storytelling very well thought. Even the movie is a bit long, nothing is irrelevant I think. It makes back and forward loopings but without confusion or losing its focus. On the contrary, those loopings show the links between the stories and takes you from one dramatic story to the other without shame, puts everything in a most realistic way. You suffer from the realism of its drama and violence; you are sad sometimes, swearing sometimes…
I really appreciate the movie for its spontaneous acting performance which includes Gael García Bernal (whom I believe grabbed the first attention in the film industry with this movie) and Emilio Echevarría (whom I adore adore adore in this movie. I should definitely see some other movies of him, but he was adorable in this character who run away from his past and abandoned by the society, trying to make a living in his squat and companying with his dogs).The movie completes itself with its remarkable Gustavo Santaolalla music whom I like a lot. (He made the soundtracks of 21 grams, Babel and The Motorcycle Diaries too. Babel is one of my favorite movie soundtracks.) Even if you don't watch the movie, you should check the track “Tema Amores Perros” of him. Adorable!
As a brief, Amores Perros is hurtful and serious. I’m not saying you need extra courage to watch this movie but you should keep in your mind that this movie touches your extreme fragile feelings and takes you from one end of sensation to the other, shakes you through its story... I can say, this movie bitches with you.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Lives of Others

A 2006 German movie (original name: Das Leben der Anderen) and director’s (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) first feature film. von Donnersmarck was 33 years old when he shot this excellent movie. He wrote the scenario himself also. The movie took best foreign language film in 2007 that it really deserves. The time is the fall of East Germany. 5 years before the fall of Berlin Wall. A person loses his faith to the state and his ideology is changing, as the ideas are changing all over the state.

We see how art creates an effect on people and change them in a positive way during the strict times. The film captures you from the beginning and you feel inside in the sequence of events till the end of the movie. The emotional sides of characters are well drawn and their inner struggles have been touched intensively.Various changes take place in their personality, also in the country. Regime change, conflicts in the country and difficulties of being an artist under the surveillance of art are provided as the reasons for the actions of the characters in the movie. It includes a drama, love, politics, improbity and humanity in its storyline.A must see movie. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen ever, from its storyline to well textured character, from its cinematography to its decors and matching story with the historical reality. I think film’s greatest strength is the acting. It is so powerful and encompasses you to the story.After reading all around about the movie, I noticed that one of the main characters, Ülrich Mühe (an astonishing actor, but unfortunately died one year after the movie release), had a similar betrayal event in his life while he was living in East Berlin.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Monmarte 15-40

Un homme et une femme (1966) – Claude Lelouch
A beautiful classic French movie with a lovely paysage at the background which reminds me one of my lovely trips there, to Deauville and Honfleur.It makes itself one of my favorite French movies with its photography changing from black-and-white to colors and to very beautiful sepia-tones (even the reason is that shooting a black-and-white movie was much cheaper back then). It’s also the first movie of Claude Lelouch that I’ve seen. It’s especially very famous with its memorable song and shot with a little budget. Its rich photography makes it even more successful when you think that it is a 1960s movie. It’s a classical French love story with two widows that meet by chance (or by fate if you call it) in one of the nicest French town Deauville. The movie has a remarkable acting besides its photography. The main actors are adorable Anouk Aimée and handsome Jean-Louis Trigenant. Some scenes make you to think that they didn’t have a script but they created the scene spontaneously. It’s not an abandoned-to-pure-romantism Worth to see if you miss to see old romantic French-love-story movies. There is also a sequel of the movie that I haven’t seen yet but will see soon. It’s shot after 20 years later with a name “Un homme et une femme, 20 ans déjà” and casting again Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trigenant.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Into the wild (2007)

A Sean Pean movie. Adaptation of a real story. Was really famous when it was on the theatre if you have heard about it at that time. Chris, a young university graduate, questions his life and tries to find a meaning but he can't. Grown up in an unhappy family and had a problematic childhood with her sister where parents do not communicate but fight. Even seems to have a strong self-conscious and mighty young guy to others, a fragile kid inside and following his graduation, he decides to run away from everything and live the life in its most natural form. He simply wants to go to basics, into the woodlands, into the wildness of nature.
What I liked about his story, he has kinda reminded me myself, that even I never hit myself on the roads for two years heading to Alaska, me too I wanted to leave everything, everyone, the already written plot of my personality seen by others, the comedy that we were playing around without having any motivation but desperately trying to find one… In that sense, I understand what Chris wanted to do with his life. I like the story for its being a real life story.
Even during the whole movie, many times you find yourself saying “ok dude all those wild stuff you’re doing there, they are fun ok but come on, leaving everything without knowing what you are heading to. And come on, there are people who wants to be in your feet in this hard world”, when you think again, you see a Chris that was lonely in his life, fell out with people and offended to his family, created a world with his favorite road books (Henri David Thoreau, Jack London, Tolstoy…) and living there trying to be happy.Talking about movie, I think it’s clear that it wouldn’t have made an echo if it wasn’t a real story. The photography of movie was really successful, landscapes of America, canyons, deserts and forests were glorious. I found main actor (Emile Hirsch) pretty successful too. If you are only intending to see a youth defying the nature, I don’t suggest the movie. However, if you want to understand him, not to question his thoughtless actions but join his survival and listen to its perfect soundtrack, you shouldn’t miss that movie.
"I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don't want one."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A brilliant movie of Guy Ritchie: Revolver

A Guy Ritchie style movie that you can find in Revolver: gangsters, guns, gamblers money flow, thefts, white powder... If you already like his style, you will love every second of it (like me). Jason Statham, main actor of Guy Ritchie (played in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) is the center character of the movie.
I really like his acting and he suits to these genres of movies with his impressive, narrator voice. In Revolver, he’s playing a gambler who is coming out of the prison with a desire of revenge from gangsters who caused him to go to prison ("nothing hurts more than humiliation and a little money loss".). However, things are getting complicated with his release from the prison and he finds himself in a high pace game with two ‘loan sharks’ asking for all of his money and in return, protect him from gangsters. He doesn’t have anything to lose since he will die in three days from a mysterious sickness (!).

There are other smartly created characters in Revolver. Despite the story is losing its points sometimes and creates question in the mind, it’s no far away being a classic Guy Ritchie movie. You watch the effects of passed-alone-seven-years of prison on our main character when he constantly talks by himself (and that’s where I enjoyed the movie). The music tracks are also very well chosen, fit to their scene (varies from classical to electronic music).
Three things (scenes) I liked about Revolver: When the main character picks up a note on the floor, a shootout scene starts and you will enjoy the camera movements which enrich action in the scene without much performance. Secondly, the chess scene and the transition in between the shots while the players make move and camera angles make you enjoy the visuality. And thirdly, the animated cartoon scenes switching from Chinese underworld boss and his gang mates when the boss learns that they ripped off by the other gangsters.
"First rule of business, protect your investment,  -Etiquette of the Banker 1775 "

Stanley Kubrick – Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Another masterpiece of Kubrick’s. I have seen three cult movies of Kubrick’s before Full Metal Jacket. They were Eyes Wide Shut, A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon. I admired all of them. Barry Lyndon for its photographical beauty (shot in Ireland btw); Eyes Wide Shut for its mysterious story and unforgettable images shot with care and effort; and A Clockwork Orange for its courageous view to human nature and being an opening to similar stories in the film industry and in the media.
Full Metal Jacket is a war movie with questions of Kubrick in the mind to the meaning and purpose of war. In this tragicomic story, one finds himself asking the question "why the hell are we fighting for?" In the following of the movie, you see how the soldiers are dehumanized and empty-brained. The movie can be thought as two parts, in the first part a group of new recruits, right before being sent to the Vietnam War, are (so-called) disciplined in a training camp and taught how to obey to their superior ("-Sir, yes sir!") by a psychologically-sick instructor and also how to talk with their rifles.
Then, in the second part of the movie, the troops are sent to the field and we watch several scenes of these miserable soldiers during the war and the effects of the war on their psychology. In between these two parts, there is a connection scene (that I liked for its song choice and funny dialogs :)) with a Vietnamese prostitute who comes next to two soldiers who just arrived to Vietnam and sitting outside of a café, asking with a broken English "-You have girlfriend Vietnam, -You like party? -me so horny"... :) I couldn’t stop myself watching this scene several times with my boyfriend because of its funny script but also it was a nice transition from the training camp to the war field and showing how unexpected things will happen to those having-no-idea-what-the-war-is soldiers and how miserable they are. worth to watch movie!
editor’s note: Stanley Kubrick is famous by his perfectionist style of shooting each scene in a pure care until he gets what he photographically wants. As far as I know, in Eyes Wide Shut, he shot a scene 127 times until he sees what he wants.