Blue is the Warmest Colour

This poster reminds me of Goddard’s film posters of the sixties. Beautifully done.

I thought I would love this film but I didn’t. 

A review I read prior to watching to Blue described it as “feelings-orgy”, and I completely agree. Blue felt extremely insular, since it was just about the two characters (though I would argue that it really is just about Adele) and the ~feelings~ they dealt with. It touched slightly on the gay community and how they were not accepted (Adele’s conflict with her school friends), or was not something easily dealt with (Adele’s inability to tell her parents the truth), but nothing more than that. It was mostly just Adele coming out, liking it, being confused about it. 

I need a larger conflict to sustain my interest. And I’m not even talking about big things like politics. It would have been much more interesting if certain aspects of the film was more developed. Throw in more of Adele’s relationship with her parents, elaborate on Adele’s misfit status in society, or give me more background story on Emma. What the film ended up with was something that felt rather mundane – maybe I’ve heard this story too many times that I’ve become numbed to it on screen. 

The films I like best reveal conflicts with dialogue, through provocative conversation that make me go “omg me too”. This film didn’t do that. It was a lot of zooming in on Adele’s face, which is gorgeous and I could stare at it all day, but as someone whose personality type contains a “S”, I would prefer to have feelings expressed through words, rather than letting me interpret through actions. The Before series did that perfectly, so did Blue Jasmine

Hold on. Would Blue have qualified for best script at the Academy’s? Is it not on the list because it was not up to standard, or because it is considered a “foreign film”?

Okay, brief rant over. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the film though, because I did. I think Adèle Exarchopoulos did a great job as a girl discovering her sexuality and direction in life. There is so much expression in her face.

I really need to make an effort to write and articulate my thoughts more. Good night. 

Blue Jasmine (spoilers ahead)

It’s kind of late and I might be adopting a sort of exhaustion slur but here goes anyway. My version of a Tao Lin film review, or how decent font redeems shitty content slightly.

I thought Blue Jasmine was remarkable. I never quite imagined Cate Blanchett in a Woody Allen role — she seemed too classy, too ephemeral for a role that usually involved quick talking, insecurities and hopeless self-indulgence. (note to self: google Cate Blanchett to find out what other films she has been it. She is soo beautiful and I need to watch a couple more films with her in it.) Oddly enough, Blue Jasmine was probably the least Woody Allen film I’ve watched. He is one of those directors who has established his auteur style so well that it is hard to not identify his hand in his movies immediately. In Blue Jasmine, Woody took a step back. He didn’t feel obliged to insert himself as a character into the film, played by him or poorly by another actor (think Owen Wilson), which was appreciated. That wasn’t going to work for much longer. 

However, as I think about it more, I’m starting to see more Woody Allen-esque elements in the film. In fact, I have a half-formed theory (that I welcome anyone to discuss with me) that Jasmine is based on Mia Farrow, and the film is about how she deals with the breaking down of their long partnership. To some extent. 

If Mia is Jasmine, then Woody is Hal. Let’s compare the similarities. Obviously, both are lecherous old men who have little regard for the institution of marriage — it’s no secret that Woody cheated on Mia with her adopted daughter (even though I worship Woody the director, I cannot respect him as a person), like how Hal cheated on various women throughout his marriage. Both also have a taste for the young and nubile, since Hal confessed at some point to love the “French whore” (cannot remember her name at this point). Both are successful in what they do, and are capable of providing for the female figure, who become heavily dependent on their male counterparts (both financially and emotionally). 

When Mia found out about their affair, she almost did not complete the filming of Husbands and Wives, but somehow managed to pull through for professional reasons. She then sued Woody and never spoke with him again. When Jasmine found out about Hal’s affairs, she has a panic attack and calls the FBI to report his shady business. Both females are especially antagonistic towards their husbands when the truth of betrayal was revealed, which resulted in court cases and a permanent separation between the couples.

I found Hal’s suicide unconvincing though. For a man who has managed to live without his conscience for so long, it seems abrupt that he should feel the overpowering burden of guilt after just a short period of time (strange how a timeline was never drawn accurately).

That’s all for my late night rambling. Good night.

Watched Frances Ha tonight and she was a sweet little thing.

The twenty-something condition has been covered to death by the media. It’s almost like we recently got a license to extend our teenage years, except on a much more meta level. They say that youth is wasted on the young—when you’re a teenager you’d think that the oldies were foggies who didn’t know what youth is about, when you’re a twenty-something you realise that they’re right and you kind of hate yourself for living up to the stereotype. 

Frances Ha was kind of like that. It was painfully aware of the fact that it was as hipster as it could get, with its black&white cinematography, Girls cast member Adam Driver, and characters saying things like, “I finally caved and got a loan from my stepdad. Let’s go to the movies.” 

Imagine Girls with a lot less sex and more cutesy than in-your-face awkwardness. Another timely reminder of what life is not supposed to be like, and that being a twenty-something is no excuse for not having your shit together.   

Dissertation summer soundtrack #1: A video that manages to capture the amazingly atmospheric music by The xx. 

Before Midnight

Let me first state—I am a massive fan of the Before series. I’ve watched the first two movies at least once a year for the past three or four years, and I don’t think I’ll stop for a while. There’s something both magical yet realistic about the movies that captured the essence of love that comes with youth (Sunrise) and despair that comes with maturity (Sunset). So naturally, I looked forward to the last movie of the series with a mix of great dread and anticipation. 

First impression—Before Midnight made the first two seem like light as air fairy cakes. Set nearly 10 years after the last movie, it is revealed that Jesse left his wife for Celine, and they live together in a partnership of sorts that is very French. They deal with relationship problems: Jesse wants to move back to Chicago to be closer to his son (at the cost of Celine’s career), and Celine is worried about her decaying attraction (I found this very self-indulgent). Audiences expected conversations, so the writers created conversation. But unlike the first two movies, there was a lot more rage, pettiness and all around human ugliness involved. Previously, the two characters held back because they had just gotten to know each other. They didn’t want to offend, upset the other party or reveal too much. Social niceties first—true selves can come slightly later. Of course, they were also distracted by attraction.

So what happens after you’ve lived with the other person for 10 years?

They were a lot more comfortable with each other and you could tell it immediately from the way they were communicating about their children’s sleeping habits. Jesse and Celine were a team. But this also meant that they had to deal with shit. Celine was particularly dislikable in this movie—even though she was praised for being more interesting than her husband by an old and wise Greek writer. I suppose interesting in this case = drama. The way she kept needing affirmation about her looks, and blamed Jesse for wanting to change her life. All these are inconsequential details that reveal to us her insecurity with age and femininity.

Celine is a character that I will always be able to relate to, even though I am starting to hate her a little. 

How much can we avoid becoming the person we fear of becoming? Some theoretical answers: 1. At least this has been registered in our consciousness so we will take steps to avoid becoming that person. 2. If we try too hard, we’re going to end up becoming that person anyway. Perhaps the only solution is to not think about this at all. Come what may. 

When we write fiction, we write within what we know. But we also write in the hope that what we have written will somehow outdistance us. We hope, through the spooky art of writing, to trick ourselves into divulging truths that we do not know we know. 

Teju Cole writes beautifully. I had to share this somewhere.

Definitely getting too attached to this project.

It’s almost like watching my favourite drama serial unfold—except that it’s a reality show only with textual elements. Some thoughts:

1. Why did they decided to do the project in the first place? Have they always saved each other as a “back up option” and this was the opportunity to realise it? Was this an excuse to try having a relationship and potentially remain friends since it’s only an “experiment? Or perhaps, they knew for sure that nothing serious would ever conspire between them so they could record this project objectively?

2. They are so open about detailing every thought that went through their heads during this period of time. I appreciate any form of pop culture with solid writing that expresses this (the Before series, Woody Allen, In Time With You). But the difference here is, instead of trying to figure out the characters through their interactions with one another, you get it delivered, straight up in a daily confessional entry. And obviously, there’s the reality element of it. Or at least, some sort of manufactured reality. I find it refreshing to see the issues discussed with friends in words on the Internet, in what is evolving into a serialised drama of sorts.

3. I was initially doubtful of the questionnaire format but changed my mind after a few entries. The form structures their thoughts, and it has also somehow also allows a development of thought since they have to confront what is wrong with themselves and the other party every single day. I find this question rather useless though: “Is there anything that you want to do differently?”. They both never really answer the question. The question that they are really answering is, “How are you going to deal with the relationship now?”

4. I would never do this with any of my friends.

I had grand ambitions for this corner of the Internet. Matchstiks was a reference to my favourite quote by Virginia Woolf:

What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.” 

This was meant to be a space for the discovery of little epiphanies, trails of words and images that may not make sense in the present but come together in the future. 

Then I got lazy. More possibly, I grew timid. The Internet is a big scary place with unwanted eyes (but then again, you do want some eyes reading your words, affirming your value) and I didn’t know what to say. 

My youth was spent gazing into many textboxes like this one, trying to think of the best way to phrase my existential angst in a cryptic yet poignant manner. Look at how far I’ve come (not much). 

This was meant to be a prelude to something else but that didn’t work out.

She Came To Stay by Simone De Beaviour

image

Simone de Beauvoir is more famously known as theFrench feminist who was in a non-monogamous relationship with Jean-Paul Sarte, the short and ugly French philosopher, than she is as a writer. Strange, considering that her fiction is also immensely compelling. De Beauvoir has a way of writing that makes you connect to her characters immediately. She Came To Stay was her first novel. It examines her relationship with Sarte and the Kosakiewicz sisters (whom she combined into one character). The three characters in the story, who are based on these real life figures, attempt a ménage à trois (a three-person romantic relationship)that ends up in failure and tragedy.

Pierre and Françoise have been in a 10 year long relationship, and neither of them are getting bored. According to Francoise, whose POV carries through the entire novel,

Their life was the same. They did not always see it from the same angle, for through their individual desires, moods, or pleasures, each discovered a different aspect. But it was, for all that, the same life. either time nor distance could divide them. There were, of course, streets, ideas, faces, that came into existence first for pierre, and others first for Françoise; but they faithfully pieced together these scattered experiences into a single whole, in which ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ became indistinguishable. Neither one nor the other ever withheld the slightest fragment. That would have been the worst, the only possible betrayal.

Their relationship is the kind of stuff all of us have been desiring for. These are two capable individuals in their respective fields (he is a director/actor and she is a playwright), and neither of them is compromising their true ability to be with each other. The bond that they share a bond is beyond the nitty gritty of relationships. It seemed like they were indestructible.

That is, until Xavière comes along. Xavière is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve read in literature. Yes, she is repulsive, but it is rare that you see such insight into the roots of a character’s disagreeable nature. She is immature, lacks self-confidence, a hedonist and possessive - all at the same time. (This is a condition that can only be afforded by the bourgeois.) After leaving Rouen, she joins a full-of-sisterly-devotion Francoise in Paris and starts a life of pleasure and boredom. She starts out hating Pierre for stealing Françoise’s affection, but later hates Françoise for being the pillar of Pierre’s life. Very intense. This is the stuff of high school dramas - give a girl what she had always wanted in the form of an extreme makeover or a short cut into a life of glamour and she will get over her head, and become the destroyer of the person who gave her access to all of that in the first place.

What I found most interesting about the book was Françoise’s reaction to the situation I had described above. I’ve read The Second Sex some years ago, and assumed that De Beauvoir was a staunch feminist, a strong female who was level-headed and intelligent. However, she did not quite match up to that impression here… Even though Françoise seemed like quite a self-possessed individual at the beginning of the novel when she was describing her relationship with Pierre, after Xavière turns against her, she seemed really, for the lack of a better word, wimpy. She became subservient to the feelings of those around her, and became the perfect example of a long-suffering wife - one that was willing to make constant sacrifices for the sake of the people she loved. It comforted me slightly that my perfect image of De Beauvoir was proven wrong, as this made me relate to her more as a person and a woman. No one is as objective as they try so hard to seem in academic papers. I love breaking down that false wall of objectivity to learn more about writers and their creative process. (That’s probably why I love Woody Allen so much.)

Trying to get my hands on The Mandarins, which is about De Beauvoir’s relationship with American writer Nelson Algren, who broke up with her after she refused to leave Sarte. Fun stuff. 

(Initially published last July on matchstiks.wordpress.com as I wanted to devote a separate blog to book reviews purely. Well, that didn’t work out so it’s here now.)

My first attempt at making a video consists of shaky hands, attempts to avoid people’s attention by pointing my camera at buildings instead and over three minutes of footage (post editing) because I wanted it to fill the song. Be prepared for major amateur action ahead.