Before Midnight (2013)… Like sunlight, sunset, we appear, we disappear.

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Before Midnight

My rating: 9

IMDB rating: 8.0

IMDB link: Before Midnight

Dearest reader,

This film is definitely my favourite of the trilogy. We finally see Jesse and Celine together, living normal lives. They have twin daughters and is flying Jesse’s son back and forth because of custody issues. Jesse is now an acclaimed writer and most of his work features Celine as his muse. And first it seems as if they are truly happy as they drive home from the airport, but things are not always what they seem…

It is as if the very things that you love about these characters are the exact same thing that is driving them apart. Celine’s feminism and her fear of domestication causes her to rebel very strongly against Jesse who is still as easy-going as in the first film, but by the third film it seems as if this attitude is the very thing that drives a drift between him and Celine.

While the previous two movies revolved around them, as a couple, exclusively, this movie explores their individuality more intensively. Jesse mixes with his writer friends and often gets caught up in the imaginary worlds he creates, while Celine is grounded and realistic. In that sense it would seem that they complete each other, but it soon becomes clear that these differences start to outweigh the similarities.

Celine, who to me, seems afraid of not only accepting Jesse’s love, but also of living a life of pseudo-happiness. As soon as the going gets tough, she tries to back out, to run away, to literally save herself from a break-up she is always expecting. They also never got married, Celine is a religious sceptic while Jesse is a closet Christian. One is never unsure of Jesse’s commitment, but throughout the film Celine questions it again and again.

The point of this film, to me, is the fact that they are neither happy nor unhappy. They are in a perpetual state of mechanically just leading their lives, trying to juggle two careers and three children. The initial passion that made Celine climb of the train in Vienna has been replaced by a deep-founding love that has to be harvested every now and again. But sometimes it just seems easier to let the love die than to constantly revisit the place you fell in love, the person with whom you fell in love, the promises you made, the compromises you made and the way they still make you feel.

The evolution of the heart as represented by these three films, are some of the most honest work in film. Relationships are explored from not only a romantic basis, but from a philosophical, gender-specific, age-defying, modern perspective that leaves the viewers examining the very premise of their own relationships whether they are romantic or not. This movie is nostalgic, making you laugh and cry (yes I did!!), making you call up the one you laugh and remember the time you got of the train for them.

Want to read more on Before Midnight? Try these…

Before Midnight and the convergence of wisdom.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT..

Before Midnight (2013): “This is how people start breaking up.”.

 

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Before Sunset (2004)… Let me sing you a waltz

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Before Sunset

My rating: 8

IMDB rating: 8.1

IMDB link: Before Sunset

Dearest reader,

After watching Before Sunrise yesterday, I was really excited to jump into this second movie as you are really rooting for Jesse and Celine. Nine years older (and wiser?) they once again meet up and this time they don’t have the luxury of a day together, only an hour or so. They pick off right where they left off talking about their lives and how they changed.

Being a cynic myself, but still a little bit of a romantic, I suspected that the planned meeting after six months would not work out, but was still rooting for the couple. The narrative is written quite interestingly because you find out about this missed meeting along with the characters, suspecting each of them in turn. Because of the book that Jesse had written, I first suspected him of being the one who stood up the meeting, but as you realise that it was actually fate that prevented Celine from showing up you too come to the conclusion that this magical couple also have to face a few realities.

Another of these realities they have to face is the fact that although they want to seem happy and successful in each other’s eyes, it is both a façade they put on (like we all do?). They realise that the one chance encounter they had nine years ago, made such a dramatic impact on their lives that they cannot be happy in other relationships because of the joy they had known in each other.

You also realise that the more these two characters changed, the more they stayed the same. Celine is still an activist, although her cause have moved from the feminine to the environmental. Jesse is still a true romantic at heart, but he also shows a few other characteristics like the fact that he absolutely loves his son.

The fact that Celine is an European and Jesse is an American is more prominent in this film than in the previous film. Celine, as an European, is sketched as more in touch with herself and nature, while Jesse seems driven by the urban and the commercial. Celine is also very much a citizen of the world, living in India and the US (where fate once again denied the couple happiness). In the previous film they were both tourists, while in this film it is only Jesse who is a tourist, can the same be said of their relationship? Are there still a few things he has to learn before he can also become a resident in the country of love?

As a sequel to the first film, this film is a wonderful build on the couple one falls in love with in the first movie. I cannot wait to see Before Midnight next, as another glimpse of this global romance.

Want to read more on Before Sunset? Try these…

Ten Years Ago: Before Sunset.

Before Sunset and the art of conversation.

Before Sunset (2004): “Memory is a wonderful thing if you don’t have to deal with the past.”.

Before Sunrise (1995)… in celebration of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood

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Before Sunrise

My rating: 8

IMDB rating: 8.1

IMDB link: Before Sunrise

Dearest reader,

In celebration of Richard Linklater’s revolutionary film Boyhood, which studies the physical and emotional growth of a boy from boyhood to manhood, that hits our screens later this year, I’ve decided to watch his most famous work, which is of course the Before-series.

This will be the first time that I am watching these films and consequently I will be analysing them from a young adult (18-25) point of view. In other words, the age of the characters in the first movie. I believe that the idea with this trilogy was not only to have the characters grow and evolve in front of you, but you as a viewer must also evolve. It will therefore be best to watch each of these films 9years apart as you will be a different person, and be in a different time in your life- just like them.

The story follows around the classic Romeo and Juliet narrative with reminiscence of the dawn song of the Middle Ages. The two lovers meet and it is love at first sight. There is an initial wooing stage followed by a night spent in lover’s bliss. However, they are constantly reminded of the impending morning and its ability to rip them apart. The morning comes like a thieve, stealing their joy, leaving them with only the promises they made to each other.

This film contains a lot of ideology, femininity, discourse on the nature of relationships, a definite believe in destiny and more than that, the naive promise of young love. One is definitely constantly aware of the impending destruction of the relationship by youth, space, commitment, fantasy and naivety. Just as easily as Celine decided to stay with Jesse in Vienna, she can change her mind about him, because that is how changeable the young heart is.

As a viewer, you get washed away by this head-over-heals impulsive, life-changing young love. Although most of their time is spent talking, devoid of any real action, you are hooked by their words and the way that they explore one another. What a brilliant film- a must-see!

Want to read more on Before Sunrise? Try these…

[Movie] Before Sunrise.

Before Sunrise: Roger Ebert

Before Sunrise: Rolling Stone

Divergent (2014)… dystopian encounters of a totalitarian kind

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Divergent

My rating: 7

IMDB rating: 7.2

IMDB link: Divergent

Dearest reader,

I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed, dystopian, alternative reality movie that in some ways  are similar to the beloved Hunger Games and in some ways completely new! I walked into this movie not knowing what to expect as I did not read anything on the movie beforehand, but I was pleasantly surprised by the whole premise of the film.

At first you get the feeling that Shailene Woodley is not going to pull this off at all. Playing the ‘other’, the odd one out in her parents’ faction, she seems emotionless and disconnected from her surroundings and the tasks at hand. When going for the ‘test’ she declares that she is afraid of the test showing that she is actually meant for another faction, but more than that, she fears of being tested for her current faction even more. It is then when the viewer start to understand more of her closeted existence.

She is, of course, a divergent and have not yet even begun to discover all the possibilities alive within her. Following her childhood dream, she joins the ‘protector faction’ and finds that with a lot of training that she could fit in with them. Just like Katniss, she is fiercely loyal, determined and willing to sacrifice anything for those she love. She is, I have to say, not such a frustrating martyr as Katniss, she faces the confusion that surrounds her head-on and although she is often betrayed by those she love, she keeps her focus on the true goal.

Another thing I loved about this movie was that although you know Triss is a divergent, you are never sure who else is a divergent and believe me, everyone is under suspicion! As you try to figure out the confusing mix of loyalties, disloyalties, politics and love, some divergents, who you never would have suspected, reveal themselves.

My absolute favourite thing about this film, was the fact that there was no love triangle shadowing the main plot. Triss and Four nearly immediately fall in love and against all odds they stick it out, and it almost seems that their relationship is not the main focus, but rather the question surrounding the divergents, the massacre of their original faction and the overthrowing of the current system.

Several reviews criticise the movie for providing an overload of information about the politics and the factions and therefore stealing some time from the main plot. I think, though, that the way in which this world is set up is very interesting and an explanation that goes into such detail is a good foundation for the following three movies. I would definitely recommend this movie to almost everyone as it nearly covers all the major genres and in doing so provides us with a very entertaining film.

Want to read more on Divergent? Try these…

Divergent Movie Review.

Movie Review: Divergent (2014).

Roger Ebert: Divergent

 

 

Antichrist (2009)… chaos reigns!

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Antichrist

 

My rating: 8

IMDB rating: 6.6

IMDB link: Antichrist

Dearest reader,

Wow, I feel so inferior writing about this movie… If you want to read a great dialogue on the nuances and underlining themes in this movie try this:

 “Antichrist”: A discussion.

The fantastically complicated Danish director, Lars von Trier, starts his ‘Depression Trilogy’ with this physically, mentally and morally exhausting film about… for me, the narcissistic and obsessive smothering of ‘natural’ grief. Melancholia followed in 2011 and lastly he added the two volumes of Nymphomaniac.

Several sources describe this film as ‘torture porn’, while others argue for the complete removal of focus from the psycho-sexual to the basic nature of these characters that are merely called ‘He’ and ‘She’. In fact, it is very significant to me that these characters are actually nameless as it points to the universality of the characters. What I mean by that is that I think that Von Trier tries to include the whole of humankind by excluding names for the two main characters. We are all inherently just like them.

I think that it is very important to realize that the death of their son was not the reason for all the madness. And although it seems like it, She may not be the most disturbed character in this film. Yes, I believed the death of the son was a catalyst that maybe quickened the downwards spiral, but both the parents’ psychological state at the death is questionable. Not only does she see what is about to happen, but the baby monitor is turned off, all these things point to the inherent narcissistic state of both the parents.

As a therapist, he makes a crucial mistake by not evaluating his own grief, but rather projects his academic ideas of the perfect grief process onto her. This almost god-complex that the man suffers from, causes him to take her from the hospital and then eventual to the outdoors to face her fears. He becomes obsessed by her anxiety, and in doing so, his therapy does not help her, but rather induces these spells of anxiety.

These forces of the self are not the only thing that influence this toxic, pseudo-therapeutic, tortured love tainted by sexual violence relationship between the parents. It is almost as if the nature (found in the park very appropriately named ‘Eden’) is trying to absorb these two characters. As she lays down in the grass, she turns green and the vines start to curl around her literally consuming her.

As with the other movies in the trilogy, this film is loaded with symbolism. Starting with the title, Antichrist, one is inclined to search for religious symbols. The first of which is the name of the son, ‘Nick’, also the subject of the thesis which she was working on was about witchcraft and, of course the name of the park, Eden. Other symbols include the fox, the deer giving birth and the crow. The mutilation of the feet is another symbol that can also be regarded as religious. The funeral goers at the end of the film is another symbol, and just like all the aforementioned symbols one is never quite sure what they refer to.

Certainly not an easy film to watch, this graphic exploration of the human psyche and its constant search for connection to others or even nature beautifully represents the Von Trier oeuvre.

Want to read more on Antichrist? Try these…

Von Trier Depression Trilogy

Roger Ebert: Antichrist

 

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)… slow-motion, difficult names and a wave of heroes’ blood

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300 Rise of An Empire

My rating: 5

IMDB rating: 6.5

IMDB link: 300: Rise of an Empire

Dearest reader,

The first 300 was quite iconic in terms of the camera-work, the spray-on abs and the cult status it lent to the historic Spartans. It also spurred the spoof Meet the Spartans and who can forget Britney Spears being kicked down the huge black hole in Sparta? Still, 300 is very far from being the best that the action movie industry has to offer.

When it came to the second movie, I was quite nervous about both the stylistic and narrative choices that the director was going to have to make. And I have to say that in that sense, this movie really surprised!

Stylistically, this movie is similar to the first 300. The action follows a ‘stop-go’ type of sequence with the constant use of slow-motion. The whole of the movie seem to be shot through some kind of filter, which gives it this golden glow. In this movie, Artemisia, who is a very dark character, is often portrayed by a darker filter and a ‘darker’ setting. It is easy to see that most of the film was shot in front of a green screen, as the CGI in this film is quite prominent.

Speaking of the narrative, I liked the fact that they kept the original 300 story alive, by having these events of the second movie play of in the same time period as the first movie. Where the first movie ended in the death of, well… everyone! The second movie takes the exact same war, that happens at the exact same time, and show that the efforts of the 300 from the first movie was not in vain as a new empire can now rise. This second film is also more focused on two leading ladies, rather than the whole film being dominated by men (as the first movie was).

I am absolutely in love with Eva Green, who plays the dark war-hero in this second film. First seeing her in Dark Shadows, then this movie, and then finally watching her in the new Showtime series Penny Dreadful that just had its first season, really showed her power as an actress for something more dark.

Although this second movie did not disappoint in terms of the first movie, it is still not ‘the best’ in terms of action films. I would still recommend it for its ability to entertain.

Want to read more on 300: Rise of an Empire? Try these…

300: Rise of an Empire 3D.

300: Rise of an Empire.

300: Rise of an Empire.

The Other Women (2014)… pseudo-feminist take on revenge

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The Other Woman

My rating: 4

IMDB rating: 6.2

IMDB link: The Other Woman

 

Dearest reader,

I definitely like a good comedy, in fact one of my favorite comedies of all time is another Diaz classic What Happens in Vegas, but this film unfortunately was not at all what I was expecting, and not in a good way.

Except for the wardrobe and the laugh-out-loud performance by Leslie Mann, I cannot really recommend anything else about this movie. The problem, I think, is the fact that I went into this movie believing that it would be a kind of ‘taking back’ by the women of what they had been robbed of by this one man. Instead, what one finds is that it is a constant obsessive struggle masked by ‘friendship’ and comedy.

The other thing that was really a let-down was the fact that everything funny in this movie, was already revealed by the trailer. All the jokes and the pranks and even the entire plot was already laid out in the trailer, and to me that is most annoying.

Is this an enjoyable movie, though? Yes, it is perfect for light entertainment, maybe a girl’s night, but looking for anything deeper in this film would be futile. It would be interesting to see if this film passes the Bechdel Test, I would have to rewatch it, but my hypothesis would be- no.

Want to read more on The Other Women? Try these…

Movie Review: The Other Woman.

The Other Woman – 2014.

The Other Woman.