To the Wonder (2012)… “You shall love, whether you like it or not.”

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To the Wonder

My rating: 7

IMDB rating: 6.0

IMDB link: To the Wonder

Dearest reader,

I believe that you will find only a few movies throughout the course of your life which are as difficult to watch as the film. And it is not because it is explicit or gory or violence filled- it is because it shows a dimension of reality which is uncomfortably close to your own.

Terrence Malick, the director of the film, is able to connect the characters and the viewer that is quite touching. One feels Neil’s inability to love and connect to both Marina and Jane, but more than that the viewer is able to justify his actions without him ever having to defend himself. In other words, the viewer feels what Neil feels; the way he can love, but not commit or be present in the relationship.

There is a very unique voyeuristic quality to this. As the viewer, being able to connect with the characters on this level, it adds another dimension to one’s understanding, but in another sense one is still morally bound to reject Neil’s actions- mainly because one also connects with both Jane and Marina.

The two woman are quite different and the fact that he ‘chooses’ both of them is therefore very significant. It is, in other words, not the person in the relationship which he cannot commit to or fully love, it is the relationships themselves. In a psychoanalytic sense it is most probably himself that he is disconnected from, and that in turn causes the failure in the relationships.

Both the direction and cinematography in this film is quite expertly done. Lovely landscape scenes with soft hues, is contrasted to the more dull looking Paris cityscape (which seems impossible, but is quite well done). Empty rooms and houses are often shown, especially Neil’s house, which could also be a direct metaphor for his investment/place within the relationship.

It is certainly worth while to watch the “making of” documentary of this film, which can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mYCDuxl3tU

Not everything in the film I liked. I could, for example, not really grasp the purpose of Javier Bardem’s character in the film. Some people also find Malick’s type of filmmaking quite pretentious and overdone.

This film is definitely for the serious arthouse lover. The progress is slow, the film is quite long and nothing truly happens.

Want to read more on To the Wonder? Try these…

To the Wonder.

To the Wonder Review.

To the Wonder.

Roger Ebert: To the Wonder (Fun Fact: This was the last movie review Roger Ebert filed)

Dazed and Confused (1993)… I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor, insignificant preamble to somethin’ else.

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Dazed and Confused

My rating: 8

IMDB rating: 7.7

IMDB link: Dazed and Confused

Dearest reader,

Just before I step of the Richard Linklater-subject altogether, I watched this teen-drama that pre-dates Before Sunrise with two years…

Thinking that this is just another senior year-knockoff of Grease, will be the biggest mistake you ever make. But expecting another pretentious teenage discussion on the realities of life, like in The Breakfast Club*, would be another mistake. This movie is almost like a mix between the two aforementioned films with just a dash of Rebel Without a Cause.

The first renewing thing about this film, is the fact that where other similar movies seem to portray the whole senior year, this movie portrays only one day. Does that mean that there is less character development? Certainly not, these small-town teens are explored just as intensely (even more?!) as their counterparts.

You cannot mention this film without noting the fact that both A-list heavyweights; Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey, had early starts in this film. This film also saw the first time that McConaughey said his most famous line: “All right, all right, all right”! And, of course, the music! Who can forget the amazing soundtrack of this film?

The past week, I have done quite a bit of reading on voyeurism, scopophilia and schadenfreude. In terms of law, psychology and literature, these three terms have the same, yet somewhat distinct meaning. I was specifically searching for instances in this film where examples of these could be found- and I was not disappointed!

Affleck’s character O’Bannion, has a very sickening liking of beating freshmen with a bat. Although the other seniors partake in the hazing as well, it seems that O’Bannion derives a certain amount of pleasure from torturing the freshmen. Schadenfreude is described as the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. O’Bannion most definitely show signs of exactly this.

Stepping away from the characters for a moment; it is interesting to see that by showing not only the injustice to the freshmen, but also the enjoyment that O’Bannion derives from the act, the director literally puts the viewer in the place of the voyeur.

I come from a time where hazing was still allowed (hazing was only forbidden in South Africa in the most parts in the last five years). It is so difficult to change one’s mindset over those injustices. As I was watching the film, you feel no pain for these freshmen as you yourself went through exactly that and know that they will do it as seniors as well. In that sense the viewer is forced to become the voyeur, by a very clever director.

Want to read more on Dazed and Confused? Try these…

Dazed and Confused(1993).

Dazed And Confused By This Movie.

Movie Review – Dazed and Confused (1993).

*I feel that I am obliged to say that although I do not like The Breakfast Club at all, I realise its importance and therefore emphasise this review by Roger Ebert.