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 :)