gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Category Archives: Film

Top 100 movies

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Since the Chicago International Film Festival is about to start in just a couple of weeks, I’ve been reading up on movies lately and I came across this list of top 100 movies (one of a gazillion top 100 movie lists). I always get overwhelmed by them and they make me feel like I have to drop everything and dedicate the next 500 hours of my life to watching the movies in order to feel complete. I’m happy to see some of my favorites on this list, like Melancholia, Frances Ha, Cold War, Before Midnight, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Tree of Life, and Inside Llewyn Davis. I”m also happy to see Call Me by Your Name, The Master, Carol, Shoplifters, Roma, Phantom Thread, and Beasts of the Southern Wild included. I’m surprised by a couple omissions though, like Blue Is The Warmest Color and Amelie, but maybe I’m just biased because they’re a couple of my personal favorites. I never quite know how these lists are ordered and how they choose which movie merits the top spot, but this one doesn’t seem to be arranged in any particular way. Thank god! I mean how could one ever decide on an order of best to worst…? Happy watching!

Mind-Body Connection

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I’ve never given much thought to the mind-body connection, but after watching the Heal documentary on Netflix, I feel a sense of rebirth; kind of like in I Feel Pretty or Isn’t It Romantic when Renee (Amy Schumer) and Natalie (Rebel Wilson) wake up with a completely changed outlook on their bodies and their beauty, and have a newfound confidence. After watching this documentary I’m thinking and feeling differently about my health, which is particularly empowering because I have a chronic, progressive disease. When you have such a thing it seems like giving in to the fear of the unknown and how it might play out in the future is an instinctual reaction, something I have definitely been struggling with over the past year and a half since I was diagnosed. Thinking about the mind-body connection and how our mental state can have a direct effect (positive or negative) on our physical state is mind-blowing and eye opening to me. Not that I have been feeling depressed or hopeless, but I have definitely been giving in to my disease. This documentary has taught me to take charge of my health and mind and body, and that I can make a positive impact on my body by nurturing my mind. I can’t say that I believe every vignette in the documentary, but I highly recommend it if this topic interests you.

 

Life as a movie

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What would our lives look like if we could watch them in a movie?

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This picture is from one of my favorite movies, Amelie, where she’s watching a movie in a theater and she looks behind her because she likes to watch other people watching a movie. My love for movies makes me wonder what our lives would look like if we could watch them as a movie. Movies are such a condensed, simplified, hyper emotional version of real life, so I can’t help but wonder what my life would look like in the form of a 2 hour long movie. What would I wear in different scenes, would my hair always be perfect, how would my relationships with others play out, how would my feelings and sensitivities for things fluctuate, how would other people feel watching me, etc…these are some of the questions that come to mind. Anyone else ever think of their lives like this?

Shape of Water

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If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after? I believe they did. That they were in love? That they remained in love? I’m sure that’s true. But when I think of her – of Elisa – the only thing that comes to mind is a poem, whispered by someone in love, hundreds of years ago: “Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.”

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This narration at the end of Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro practically brought me to tears. It’s such a beautiful love story and this ancient poem is the perfect summation of the love shared between Elisa and the sea monster. We’ll see how the movie does at the Oscars, but I loved it, so let’s hope it wins big!

“Life pushes us forward”

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Nothing is an end in itself and therefore nothing is a source of complete rest. Everything is a stimulus to new wishes, a source of new uneasiness which longs for new satisfaction in the next and again the next thing. Life pushes us forward. 

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Hugo Munsterberg was a German-American psychologist active in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who also contributed to film theory, which is how I know him. I studied film in graduate school and we read his book, The Photoplay: A Psychological Study, in a history of cinema class. In looking at this quote, it can obviously apply to life more broadly and not specifically only to film. In fact, not knowing that it’s part of film theory, one probably wouldn’t even relate it to film at all. Either way, I loooooveeee this quote and identify with it so deeply because of my attachment to existentialism. If this isn’t the most fundamental truth of our existence, I don’t know what is. It’s so true though, right? We never seem to be happy or satisfied with our current situation. And even when we are, we worry about what we’re missing – like if we’re too happy or when it might end because it can’t possibly last forever…we can’t possibly be that happy. On the other hand, when we are dissatisfied, we have no choice but to move forward, even if we’re not necessarily moving in a direction that brings us more satisfaction. We’re always looking forward with both skepticism and hope.

 

 

The Devil’s Mistress

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The Gene Siskel Film Center is currently running a Czech Film Festival, which is exciting for me because my mom is Czech. The other night I went to see The Devil’s Mistress, which is a true story about a Czech actress who goes to work in Germany and has an affair with Hitler’s right-hand man, Joseph Goebbels. Hitler’s character is, of course, frightening and awkward, but well-played. The movie is melodramatic, but the starlet, played by Tatiana Pauhofová, is stunning and charming. Her flirtatious spirit is disturbing at times, as she knows she can use it to get what she wants, and the way she falls in love with Goebbels is shocking given his political affiliation and stature. I have to say I much prefer the actor she has a passionate affair with who she leaves for Goebbels, but the heart wants what it wants I guess…

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The setting of all the scenes is beautiful, as well as the scenery, especially the modern house Lida buys for her parents. All based on true events, it was an interesting historical lesson for me, in addition to being entertaining and visually engaging. Hearing the Czech language was so nostalgic for me and I was surprised by how many words I could understand based on what I’ve picked up listening to my mom speak to my grandparents over the years. I only wish there had been a little less dialogue in German and a little more in Czech!

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Paris Can Wait

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Can Paris wait? I think most of us would agree it cannot. This consensus that I’m assuming is shared among those in the plot of the new movie starring Diane Lane, Paris Can Wait. Reminiscent of another travelogue starring Lane, the popular Under the Tuscan Sun, this genre really seems to suite her well. She is a classic beauty and there is a carefree, sexy ease about her that makes her the perfect travel companion, even if only through a screen. You hardly see any shots of Paris but at the very end because the movie traces the fragmented journey to Paris, but the places they stop along the way are points of interest in their own right. Lane’s trip to Paris is not with her husband, as one might imagine, but with her husband’s business partner who happens to be a Frenchman, played by Arnaud Viard. Need I say more about the fact that he’s a Frenchman and all the stereotypes that go along with that…he is charming, flirtatious, spontaneous, a womanizer, and let’s just admit, a little selfish. Despite all this, there is a genuine connection between him and Lane, which makes her feel appreciated and desired in a way that she hasn’t felt by her husband in a long time. Classic…

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The movie is full of scenes of delectable food and artistic shots of whatever Lane sees that she’d like to capture with her old school digital camera. She certainly does have an eye for composition of the unique things she comes across on her trip. There are sad moments as you learn more about Lane’s life, and there are funny moments as she saves the day when their car breaks down on the way to Paris. What I particularly liked was her relationship with her daughter (who we never actually see) because it reminds me of my relationship with my parents – we share the same name, we are both only children, and we are both very close to our parents.

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The movie definitely accomplishes evoking travel envy, as I left wanting to take a similar trip, even full of all the obstacles. I also love Lane’s summery linen outfit (seen in all three of these pictures), as well as her seductive evening dresses. Usually Paris can’t wait, but I suppose it can if it means going on a spontaneous adventure like this one.

“Big Little Lies”

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I’m only one of the millions who was obsessed with the all too short mini-series of Big Little Lies on HBO, but I have to say something about it because I haven’t been this hooked on a TV show in a long time. I watched it religiously every week with a friend and I looked forward to those nights like Christmas morning. The opening credits/intro alone should give you an idea of its dramatic yet somehow relaxing and calming aura – as if the characters are caught up in this ring of drama, yet they’re far too cool for it. It radiates that laid back California vibe (coming from someone who’s never been to California…), but the repeated, endless ocean views these women are lucky enough to have outside their kitchen windows only perpetuates this vibe. How then, do they manage to look so effortlessly and seamless put together? Well, not all the of the characters embody this chill, glam look, but those who do certainly pull it off with grace. And how about that soundtrack…and the cutest kids!

The show is dark. Starting off with the rather serious drama between the kids, then proceeding to the drama between the adults, which is even more serious, it is a thriller that keeps you guessing until the very last second of the seventh episode. Literally. The rumors of a potential second season, or the making of another mini-series based on a Liane Moriarty book are everywhere, but I guess the outcome remains to be seen. We can only hope and pray that it comes true!

“One Kiss”

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The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago was running a European Union Film Festival for the month of March and I took full advantage. I went to see eight movies and I was sad that I didn’t make it to more, but I beyond enjoyed the ones I did see. I loved many of them, but there was one that stuck out to me for its existential authenticity and realistic portrayal of what it is to grow up during your teenage years and navigate the nightmare that is high school. It was an Italian movie called One Kiss directed by Ivan Controneo.

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The protagonist, Blu, played by Valentina Romani, who is relatively new to the acting world, did a marvelous job of taking on a difficult role filled with teenage frustration, as she has to learn to maneuver around the limitations placed on us by others during those high school years that can be so challenging for people to overcome. What helps her overcome this is a friendship she forms with a new kid at school, who happens to be gay, and waltzes in like he owns the place in dramatic fashion. They then take on a shy, quiet guy under their wing and the three of them have adventures akin to those of Jules, Jim, and Catherine in Truffaut‘s Jules et Jim, and Matthew, Theo, and Isabelle in The Dreamers. These parallels are quite obvious, as the three of them dance several choreographed pieces recalling the famous dance in the cafe in Jules et Jim, and run through their high school hallways like Matthew, Theo, and Isabelle run through the Louvre in Paris, in The Dreamers, which is in itself a parody to Jules, Jim, and Catherine running through the Louvre in Jules et Jim.

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Their adventures remind you of everything you ever wanted to do in high school but were too embarrassed to do because you were afraid of what others might think of you. But Blu and her two partners in crime just don’t give a f**k and prove how much fun you can have if you liberate yourself enough carry out your wildest dreams. The soundtrack is stellar which only intensifies the freedom they exert, as well as the freedom you feel while watching them and living vicariously through them, even if only for a couple hours for the duration of the film.

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The three of them don’t live in such a free, happy state all the time though. These moments of bliss are definitely interspersed with the hardships they face, which are truly painful. And at the end of the movie there is a shocking finale that had much of the audience jump in their seats and gasp a sigh of terror. Despite this, it is a beautiful movie about what it is to grow up and it will surely become an Italian classic for a younger generation.

When you host a naked party, but you’re the only one who’s naked…

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This was the setting of the most bizarre and comical scene in Toni Erdmann, the German film that was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars this year. It did not win, but the dry humor that prevails throughout definitely makes it a good contender. It’s a very long film, which I wasn’t prepared for, rounding out at about 2 1/2 hours, and its slowness makes it feel even longer. I almost left at one point because it started to drag on, but thank god I didn’t because at about the two hour mark, this scene of humorous hysteria ensued.

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The main character, Ines, hosts a buffet lunch at her apartment for her consulting colleagues in an effort to encourage team-building. The naked component of the luncheon is not exactly planned, but as Ines has trouble adjusting her tight dress right as the first guest rings the doorbell, she impulsively decides to answer the door naked after she struggles to get out of her dress. First a friend arrives, who then leaves because she does not agree to strip down, followed by her boss, assistant, and other colleagues. As they’re awkwardly standing around naked, Ines’s dad, who is the primary source of comedy throughout the movie, shows up in a looming, furry costume. While those at the party are mostly disconcerted by his appearance, it somehow brings Ines and her father closer together after a tumultuous relationship.This whole scene is carried out in a completely serious manner with everyone maintaining straight faces as if colleagues standing around naked at a party is perfectly normal, which is what makes the entire audience LOL!