Dec. 4th, 2009

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The Most Beautiful Man in the World - This film wins the award for being the most seemingly harmless flick that is actually dripping with disturbing sexual undertones. I'm surprised that no one else in class really seemed to notice, but then again, this is the kind of thing that many people would not choose to mention and I'm just blunt enough to come out with it. That shot starting on the girl's stomach was really sexual. I thought it was a grown woman until I saw the face, because those shots are usually used to convey sexuality and are never used with children. 

I don't quite know what to do with this film though. So it acknowledges childhood sexuality. But so what? What is the point of this all? We should start encouraging children to act on it? Or is the point that if we understand it, we can deal with it better? The film portrays childhood sexuality in a positive fashion, starting with the name of the film and the fact that the child's home is sterile and dead while the outside 'sexual' world is beautiful and free and seems to just be making an observation, taking a snapshot of a moment in a child's life. Maybe there is no point to it. If this were an adult I don't know if I'd be asking these same questions as much as just accepting the film for what it is. But as this is a child and this is a huge taboo, this film is supposed to be raising questions. Wow. What a loaded topic, and kudos to the filmmaker dealing with it in a subtle respectful way, because I'm sure that lots of filmmakers would prefer to go at it in a far more crass way.

I noticed that the screen was extremely narrow, more so than in standard widescreen films. Not quite sure what to make of that, is it hinting towards a limited childhood perspective, that they 'see' less? Or is this just an aesthetic choice?

Really lovely sound design when the girl is in the grass, and as I have spent like 10 hours sweetening semi crappy audio, I sincerely appreciate the amount of work put into make the grass sound just perfect. 

The Winter People - The biggest problem with this movie was the editing, with a secondary issue of writing. I'm not encouraging speeding up the movie - the tempo was fine - but just snipping off unnecessarily long bits that got in the way of the story progressing and add nothing to the plot would have been helpful. The most glaringly obvious example of this would be the flashback scene on the beach with the mother on the phone with the father. As The Screenwriter's Bible notes, flashbacks are really hard to do properly, and this one in particular didn't add any new information or emotional impact. I would really enjoy watching this movie over again if someone would re-edit it - heck, I'd be happy to do it myself, and that is a NICE OFFER, not me being mean, because I CAN BE NICE!

I also had a problem with the way the story ended. It came off incredibly cheesy like it belonged on the Hallmark Channel. Now, if the writer/director is aiming for that audience then I guess they succeeded, but the story could have been so much more powerful. There are two worlds overlaid upon each other that both explain the mussled bedclothes and lipstick - the fantastical explanation of the winter people and the real life explanation of the father and his girlfriend. In the movie however, the only explanation that is completely confirmed is the fantasy one, and that's what ruins it for me. By having the end scene with the winter people and the ball of light play out without the little girl witnessing it, it establishes that the fantasy explanation, while not being the only explanation, is TRUE. The supernatural DOES exist. There is no corresponding confirmation of the real life explanation, other than the mother's say-so. And that is the crux of the cheesiness of this movie - that the fantasy has not only been confirmed, but has been done so outside of the little girl's perspective, and that the real life explanation is almost dismissed. The writer is either aiming for a story about a girl who tries to rationalize upsetting real life events with a fantasy explanation (which would be achieved through a confirmation of the real life explanation and not the fantasy one), or a story about dead people who come back for the winter in the form of balls of light. Actually, come to think  of it, it's not quite clear what the main story in this movie is: Is it about the little girl or the winter people? Is it a serious and sweet piece about what happens to dead loved ones or an exploration of the effects of divorce on children? Is the movie just about 'loss' in general? The movie's too short and not well-written enough to deal with all these questions.

The way the movie stands, it could be roughly salvaged by cutting the last scene and the scene where the girl learns that the plumber is the dead son, thus confirming neither explanation and toning down the cheese factor, leaving the audience to wonder what happen.
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Two Men and a Wardrobe - This film was so nonsensical. I get that the story was about two men who don't fit into society and are treated badly because of it, but the addition of the surreal elements of the sea and wardrobe ruined it for me. On the other hand, I can see how the wardrobe is an attempt to take an old topic and make it fresh again, or maybe Polanski was really into surrealism (if that's even the right term for this). I wouldn't be surprised if writer of The Red Balloon based his script on this, especially as the scene with the child not being allowed on the trolley/train seems to be a direct homage to the scene where the two men are not allowed on the trolley/train with the wardrobe. NIce image of the men going back into the sea, like I said in class, very reminiscent of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

(And a really helpful hint to all students: I know very little poetry, but Prufrock is one of my favorite poems and I've learned if you go around spouting references to it you sound amazingly academic and well read. Go memorize the entire thing, and The Wasteland too while you're at it.)

Obligatory comment on the homoerotic nature of the two men's relationship, although I'm perfectly happy to chalk it off to European behavior, since it's very likely that their behavior was not considered gay in Poland in the 1950's. (See: Middle Eastern customs of men holding hands versus American customs). Or possibly the film is commenting upon how male homosexuality is not tolerated in mainstream society with the wardrobe being the gay closet these two affectionate men have come out of.

I don't understand why this film is considered to be such a masterpiece - exactly what did it accomplish in terms of anything? Why is it famous?

The Morning Guy - Hey, if this film made it into a film festival despite its technical flaws, then so can I. Color correction is your best friend.

I though the man was a really great actor, he delivered his lines so perfectly, and the dialogue was very well written. It sounded exactly like a radio show in the morning. The only thing that irritated me was why did he drive his wife away? Did he do it on purpose? Was he trying to get rid of her? Why? And if he simply couldn't help himself, then why didn't he seem more upset once she had left? Does the character know something that is never revealed to the audience, such as this happens all the time and the wife will come back? I wish the man's motivations had been made more clear, because then this would have been a truly fun and intriguing script for me.


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tamar the great

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