Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

Let me start off by saying what a great movie this was.

It is truly amazing that this movie was created on the ridiculously low $2m production budget. No special effects, no Hollywood stars or anything, just a great movie. The reason why this movie was great is because of how unique it was. Firstly, the movie showed perhaps the most authentic representation of first nations people, that I have ever seen in terms of on film. The entire movie was in first nations dialogue, and was all shot somewhere in the eastern arctic. What really “wow’d” me the most, was the acting. At first, while I was watching the movie, I for sure knew that these were not actors, their acting seemed so legitimate that I knew for sure that they were actual first nations people. When I found out at the end of the movie, that they were actual actors, I was shocked. Especially during the scene, where the main character, Atanarjuat was running completely naked in the freezing arctic weather, I had never seen anything like that on film, EVER. It seemed so real. It is one of those scenes that you will probably never forget in your lifetime. Everyone else’s performances were terrific just as well.

The story was really basic, nothing extraordinary, but it was so entertaining because the traditional Hollywood story is done in an aboriginal setting. As I was watching the movie I could not help but notice that perhaps the director made the story so “Hollywood typical” or western typical on purpose. I believe that due to all the misrepresentations and bad associations that Hollywood put on Aboriginal people in Hollywood films, that the director in this movie wanted to return the favor. He placed common western problems in this first nations movie. Perhaps he did it to show that even Aboriginal people had the same problems as western people, or perhaps the director wanted to make fun of or show the problems that western society has today in an aboriginal setting (irony). I believe it is the later one, which was his true intention. (The problems I am talking about are, adultery, lying to family members, murder within the family to become the leader, etc., problems that you typically see in western or European culture and films) (for me this entire story seemed so similar to all the historic European empire stories, of the son killing the father to become king).

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Blog 3 Assignment – Make Us Laugh (Comedy Genre)

The movie is about a family failing to achieve the American Dream. The article, Mapping Contemporary Cinema says, the movie is “depicting a white middle-class nuclear family as a crucible of miscommunication and emotional dysfunction for the purpose of critiquing conservative values”. Viewers recognize what this movie is all about from the very beginning scene, showing Olive, a chubby 8 year old admiring and imitating the beauty queen on the TV screen. The very next scene, shows her father giving a lecture on motivation, talking about how in this world there are only winners and losers, an American capitalistic ideal. The camera zooms away, and you see that the father is only lecturing to a very small crowd of people. Quickly viewers realize, that both these characters are trying to achieve different aspects of the American dream, Olive by wanting to look like a beauty queen, and her father trying to become successful financially. This labels the family as a “loser” or failure.

Then the son says, “Life is one fucking beauty contest after another … Do what you love, and fuck the rest!” At this point, the director is attempting to tell viewers, that this mythological American dream, is just that, a dream, often impossible to obtain. However, the director wants you to take away, that just because you do not achieve, does not mean that you cannot be happy. Olive goes on to perform a very scandalous performance at the pageant, not really caring about how she looks, or what others think about her. Viewers realize this when Olive is hesitant to perform while backstage, and her mother tells her to just be herself, forget what the “ideal” definition of beauty is, and to just be yourself. The father’s 9 step program fails to gain popularity, he is saddened when his promoter finally tells him this, but he still does not lose hope. The end of the movie is not your stereotypical ending, the entire family fails to achieve their individual goals. However, through their experiences travelling to Olive’s pageant together, the family realizes that they actually do not need to achieve these idealistic goals to be happy. Compare the beginning dinner scene to the end, you can truly tell that although they failed to obtain the American dream, they are still happy because they have each other, and that is the significance of the quote from the son.

Analyzing the pageant further, like Zizek; while Olive’s performance was very scandalous, to the beauty pageant judges, I actually found it to be a lot less sexual and objectifying to women, than what the other contestants did. Olive was fully clothed, and had no make-up on, while the others wore very revealing costumes with a lot of make-up on, which no 8 year old girl should be doing. As the article, Gender and Contemporary Film states, the culture around beauty pageants is so distorted, that the people associated with the pageant believe that wearing revealing clothes and a lot of make-up is actually ok, and not objectifying females. I believe that the director wanted to show, how messed up society’s view on the culture of beauty pageants is.

The movie was positioned as a “smart cinema”, as the article Mapping Contemporary Cinema states. Throughout the movie, there are tragicomedy segments. For example, during the dinner scene, Steve Carell, who was just released from the hospital after attempting to commit suicide, is eating and Olive asks him why he tried to kill himself. The subject matter of suicide is a very serious one, yet the director chooses to present this in a humorous way, I’ll admit that even I found myself laughing at this scene, when I knew I should not be. Tragicomedy is used, to show viewers what this movie is really all about. Most movies you see the stereotypical “ideal” nuclear family, and in this movie, the family is far from the “ideal” family that society depicts. The article states this as well, “What the movie’s about is that even though not every family’s perfect, even the imperfect family can still love each other just as much”.  The director is presenting the dark imperfections of the family, but doing so in a humorous way to show that, while that family has their issues, this is normal, and that they can still be a happy family.

Blog 2 Assignment – Sexuality And Love

Battle of “Global Capitalism” vs. “Art & Love”, through the story of a middle aged housewife Emma. The article, “I Am Love as political melodrama”, talks about how in older melodrama Hollywood movies, mostly had the same recipe. The “Bourgeois family structure”, the focus of melodramas, as it is with this movie, Emma’s wealthy family is the “Bourgeois”, then a conflict occurs, between the upper-class and free lower-class. The article talks about how melodramas deconstruct mainstream idealism, which is what happens in this film. The mainstream ideal is, that Emma, is in a wealthy family, with healthy children, therefore, she should be happy. The movie opposes this ideal by showing that Emma is not actually happy. Viewers sense this from the life-less Emma in the first half of the movie, she gets dressed by her maid, and has no career; her sole objective is to be a wife and a mother. A perfect scene that iterates this is, while her son Edoardo is having a party, she is cooped up in a room with her maid; she is not “allowed” to have fun.

The Codes of Gender documentary describes how women are depicted as submissive, provocative, unbalanced, and childish. This movie depicts Emma in this stereotypical way as well, in her relationship with her husband, clearly he is in charge. He took her from her family in Russia, changed her name and her identity, turning her into an Italian wife and mother. This is exemplified, when she says “I learned to be Italian”. In addition, Antonio, is also in charge in a sense. He makes the first move between the two, as shown when he kisses her from behind while they are in his garden. She is always going to him, throughout the movie, you never see Antonio coming to her, creating a sense that she needs him, more than he needs her. This reinforces traditional stereotypes of how the male is always in charge, and is the dominate one in a relationship. In terms of gender role, the article “Night to His Day”, talks about how “we are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed the other person in a gender status”. This is why Emma tolerated her marriage for that many years, because she thought that, since she is a woman that it is her gender duty, to solely be a wife and a mother, nothing else.

Emma does not tell anyone when she discovers Elisabetta is homosexual, she knows that her capitalistic family would not understand as it frowned upon by the capitalist society. Yet, Emma accepts her and respects her for “being free”, something Emma wants to do, which is why she asks for her approval, near the end of the movie. In this sense, a stereotype is broken away from, how a romantic movie is usually driven by the male’s decisions, whereas in this movie, it is driven by the female’s, which is what the director wanted to present. Furthermore, it is an older woman who runs away with a male, which is a taboo in society.

In the second half of the movie, Emma finally breaks away, from her capitalistic family. Viewers sensed this as camera angles got faster and colors changed from colorful to dark. The Melodrama article talks about how this, usually indicates when the conflict will occur in most melodrama movies. In an interview, the actress playing Emma says that she thought of her character, as a dog, who finds a bone and goes chasing after it. Emma needed an escape, and Antonio was the perfect person for it. Antonio is the opposite of Emma’s family, of private, very capitalist minded people, he is a chef (food in Italy is often how one describes his artistic side), lives in the wilderness, and does not care about money. He is the perfect person, to combat against capitalism.

At the end of the movie, Emma and Antonio are in a dark cave, with shadows. To most viewers, this seems like a happy ending, however, if you look through the lens, like Zizek, you would think differently. A cave with dark shadows symbolizes falseness & fantasy, in Plato’s famous allegory. Which means that their relationship may not be true love, that it will eventually fizzle out, but the director cut the movie off before showing that, to please viewers. Similar to how Zizek says if Leonardo in Titanic survived, their relationship would have likely ended when they both got back to New York.

Blue is the Warmest Color

This movie could be a lot of different things, each viewer probably took away something different, after watching this movie. For me personally, this movie was about the journey of Adele. The movie follows her from highschool to adulthood, and shows the many difficulties of “growing up” in general.

Adele starts out as a regular highschool student, until she realizes that she is a lesbian. Thus, she goes through a journey to find love, and try to live life as a lesbian, which is hard at first for her.

One of the things that the director wanted to show in this movie, is the different levels of hierarchy in France, the different class systems that are evident in society there. The director presents Adele as the “middle to lower class” group, and Emma as the “upper-middle class” group. A perfect example is the dinner scenes, in Adele’s family dinner, everyone is eating spaghetti, which is a simple, easy to make, meal that lower class people usually eat. Whereas in Emma’s family dinner, everyone is eating shellfish, and oysters, both foods are known to be high-class foods that upper class people eat. Another example is the two jobs that Adele and Emma have. Adele is a simple preschool teacher, this is regarded as a middle to lower class job in France. Emma is an artist, one that actually makes money, this is regarded as a upper class career in France. On a side note, I realized that being an artist in France is actually very noble, whereas in North America, it is usually looked down upon, so this was an interesting take, on how different cultures, value different professions.

Another scene that exemplified this, was the graduation party of Emma’s. During the party it was very hard for Adele to fit into Emma’s “culture”, her group of friends, because the social levels were different, Adele had trouble connecting or finding something relate-able with the group, as a result, she felt like an outcast. During the entire party, Adele is the care-taker, she is cleaning the dishes, and serving people, because this is the class the director wanted to project Adele as being in, the lower class level. Even after the party Emma tells Adele to try and become a writer. Basically, Emma is indirectly telling Adele, that “what you are doing now, is a lower class job, I want you to move up to my class, and you can do that by becoming a writer, instead of a preschool teacher”.

On a side note, I was really amazed, at how different Adele was in the beginning of the movie, compared to the end. Physically you can tell that she was growing up, and even with her attitude, you could just see the progression in Adele. A prime example would be how before, in highschool, if she was sad, she would just cry and eat, but by the end of the movie, even when Emma tells Adele that she does not love her anymore, Adele is of course sad at first, but shows her maturity by accepting it. I was having trouble deciding why the ending of the movie, ended like that. Why the director just shows Adele walking off “into the sunset”. But reflecting back on it now, the director wanted to show how mature and far Adele has come, from the beginning of the movie. She accepts the fact that she screwed up with Emma, and that their relationship is over, so she does the mature thing, and just walks away, not being a “sore-loser” about it. That is what I feel, the director wanted to show, with the ending.

The Normal Heart – The perfect title for this movie

The Normal Heart, first off, I want to say, great acting from the entire cast in the movie, and a great soundtrack as well.

Now the title of the movie, The Normal Heart, to me is the most accurate title this film could have chose.  The story is ultimately about a gay couple, and how the aids epidemic has affected their relationship. The movie is all about the gay community, how they act, what they do, and how the “outside world”, or straight people, view them. In the beginning of the movie, the whole idea of showing the viewers, how gay people are, seemed like what the rest of the movie will be about. By the end of the movie, I think most viewers will find that, this movie is not actually even focusing on gay people, and their community, but rather, just on a couple that really loved each other, and how the aids disease affected so many people. The director wanted you to ignore the fact that the couple, and the community was gay, he convinced you that these were just ordinary people. Which is why the “Normal Heart” title is perfect for this film. The idea in society of how a gay person’s heart is not “normal”, since their sexuality is not of the norm, as depicted by society. The director ultimately, wanted to show us that, just like straight people, gay people, are actually very similar. You could have replaced the gay couple, with a straight male female couple, and the message and affect would have still been the same, that the couple is torn apart by this disease.

Every movie I have ever seen, in regards to portraying gay people on screen, has not been able to accomplish this, as if there was a gay person or couple or community in a movie, or TV show, that his character is defined by the fact that he is gay. This movie convinces viewers, through the movie, that these gay people are actually just the same as straight people. That both love, and get hurt, which is why I believe that this movie was truly great, it has accomplished something that view movies have, in this regard.

Furthermore, the film shows just how differently straight people think about gay people, the perfect example is when Ned (main character), is in a meeting with the adviser of the president, and the adviser asked Ned if this disease can effect straight people, when Ned said “no”, the adviser completely had no care for the subject anymore, as it will not affect him or straight people, thus, Ned was sent out of his office, with the adviser saying that he would not recommend this issue to the president.

Another thing I noticed was how different the beginning of the movie was, with the beach house scene, everything is so colorful and joyful. Then you look at the later half of the movie, especially the hospital scene where Felix is just about to die, and all you see is dark shadows and black/grey colors. This was very similar to the movie I Am Love in this regard, where the director went from colorful to dark, to emphasize just how bad things are getting.

 

I Am Love

True love, or just a bored house wife?

I Am Love, the Italian movie, the classical love story with a twist.

Your traditional love story, low income girl, gets married to super rich guy. Girl discovers that this is not the life she wanted, she wants more out of life, she made the mistake of selecting money over happiness. She finds a free spirited man, this guy loves life in general, and sweeps her off her feet, and the two fall in love, and escape away together. Living, presumably, happily ever after. This movie depicts that very same story, the only difference is that the woman in this story, is much older, (guessing that she is probably in her late 40’s, early 50’s), and the free spirited guy, is much younger. I believe the director did this on purpose, to present the classical love story, in another fashion, similar to how Quentin Tarantino depicted his take on western movies, with Django Unchained.

We have seen this love story a million times

This movie actually has a lot of messages to digest. This movie is a melodrama, the director attacks the idea of having the perfect “nuclear” family, and how this will lead to true happiness. Emma (the wife) has 2 sons and 1 daughter, all in their mid to late 20’s. Thus, she has been married to her husband for a substantial amount of time. She describes her being happy in her early stages of being married, but as time went on, she literally has all passion sucked out of her. In the beginning of the movie, you can really tell that she lived for family, everything she did was for them. This is understandable as this is normal in Italy, the mother’s main purpose in life, is to be a mother. Even the movie style in the beginning of the movie, depicted this. The camera cuts were much longer, and the movie seemed very flat, the soundtrack was very calm, and regular. I believe the director made the first half of the movie dull on purpose, to let viewers experience how life-less Emma was during the beginning of the movie. As events started escalating, one after the other, camera cuts were much faster, soundtrack was faster, more edgy, the colors in the settings were all dark and black (compared to being really colorful in the first half). You could tell, something was about to happen. Just look at the first dinner scene, all colorful, whole family is happy, then compare that to the final dinner, all dark grey, everyone is depressed (even the family business was being sold off).

Bright

i am love 08 I Am Love Cast

Dark

Her name was even given to her, by her husband, and a lot of times, she was even dressed by her maid (she barely did anything, everything was given to her). One could understand how boring life would be like, if everything was just given to you. She was supposed to be happy, she has beautiful, healthy children, and her family is very wealthy. Modernists would describe this situation as the “American Dream”. What more can you want? Yet, the director presented to viewers, that this nuclear family ideology, does not always lead to happiness.

Is this really happiness?

She falls in love with a chef, very symbolic, in terms of Italian culture, since food is very important in that country, so Emma essentially fell in love with Antonio, at first, due to his cooking. Antonio lets Emma be herself, even telling her that her real name, is beautiful (whereas her husband gave her, her name). She falls in love with Antonio, because she is almost “set free” when she is with him. She has children, but I think, that she believes that she has sacrificed enough of her life for her children, and that they are old enough to take care of themselves now. Which is why she leaves her family, to run off with Antonio. You can tell that she still loves her children, firstly, by the fact that she was the one most devastated by her sons death (Edoardo). Secondly, when she is about to leave, she looks at her daughter, she does not say anything, but the viewers can understand the conversation between the two, just through their facial expressions. Emma was basically asking her daughters permission to leave with Antonio, asking for her “blessing” or approval in a sense. The daughter agreed with her mom’s decision, and allowed her to go. Emma truly looks up to her daughter because she came out about being a lesbian, she presented her true self,  and Emma looked up to her for doing so, as Emma wanted to express her true self as well. Thus, Emma and Antonio run off together.

The last scene, shows them making love in a cave, with dark shadows. This is interesting, as Plato (Greek Philosopher), describes this symbol, as something that is “false”, “fantasy”, not true. Thus, I believe that the director leaves viewers with the thought, that maybe this was not true love after all, maybe it was all just a fantasy. Maybe, Emma was just bored, and really needed some excitement, and Antonio was a fun and exciting guy. This is all up to the viewers interpretation. In my opinion, I believe that she truly was bored, and that she does not actually love Antonio, she just loves the idea of being “free” when she is with him. You can replace Antonio with any free-spirited guy, and she would fall for him. However, I do believe that the way she was living life, was not sustainable, soon or later she had to “come out”. Her life had no passion, so I support her reasoning to leave her family. Her children were old enough, and her relationship with her husband was almost non-existent during the entire movie.

Plato’s famous “allegory of the cave” symbol

Eyes Wide Shut – Perfect Example of Postmodernism

Think you know what the movie is all about just from looking at this cover? Boy are you in for a treat.

I recommend everyone, (you have to be over 18 to see this movie, A LOT of nudity) to see this movie, and do not read anything about it before viewing it, and I guarantee that you will be absolutely shocked throughout the movie.

Now the movie is directed by Stanley Kubrick, the last movie he directed before he died, and referred to this movie as his greatest masterpiece. If you know Stanley, you will know that he ALWAYS has a lot of hidden messages and themes in his movies, that really stretch your brain. This movie is no different.

This movie is LOADED with symbolism and different ideologies

The movie looks at a modern couple, played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (both in the prime of their acting careers when this movie came out, so the overall acting was fantastic). The movie begins by showing them as your typical “normal” family, Tom as a doctor, Nicole as a house wife, and they have a 9 year old daughter. Then, throughout the movie, the director shows how broken the modernist view of what a family should be, truly is today. The movie’s overall theme is about lust, sexuality, and fantasies. This movie reminded me a lot of The American Beauty, in the sense that the character’s live in a “fantasy” world. Stanley shows how a perfect couple, with a lot of money, and a daughter, can still fall apart, due to the distractions of the modern world. The movie shows what happens to a couple typically, when they are married for quite some time, and things get “stale”, thus, each person in the relationship look for fantasies, to escape in. The movie fits very well into the postmodernism topic that we looked at in class, as it criticizes modernist views on relationships. I would recommend this movie to be added into the course THEA 3225 under the postmodernism topic, if the school can look past the movie’s very strong R rating that is.

If you love hidden messages, cinematography, and plot twists, give this movie a view.

I have seen A LOT of movies, and let me tell you, this could be the greatest movie I have ever seen, thus, I recommend this movie to anyone in the course. I promise you, that you will be thinking about the messages in this movie, weeks after you view it.