Showing posts from July, 2015

Laughable Loves (book)

Laughable Loves (Written by Milan Kundera)/1969 Kundera explores human desires and fragility in the seven stories contained in this book (fragility caused by ego, shame or fear).   Naturally one of the greatest desire in human beings is sexual desire.   In order to acquire the object of their desire the characters in this book go to great lengths to overcome their shame or fear.   On the other hand, the shame or fear stops them in their journey leading desire to intensify as unrequited love.   Moreover, s ometimes ego drives a character’s desire: what makes one proud or worthy in the eyes of others dictate what one desires rather than following what is natural to one’s being. Kundera provides knife-sharp analysis of the internal debate that goes on in the characters and really exposes their vulnerability until the reader has nothing left to ponder.   I found this approach a bit harsh and brutal at times and felt sorry for the characters who were left naked and empty at the end o

Hill of Freedom (film)

Hill of Freedom (Directed by Hong Sang-soo)/2014 This movie was my first viewing at the 2015 New Zealand Film Festival. The director of this film is Hong Sang-soo from South Korea. As a screen writer and director he brings a uniquely quaint and feel-good quality to his film s.   When I watch them I tend to drift off into a comfortable feeling, and enjoy them for their soft, caring approach and their lack of violence or overindulgence in pain or drama.   Painful things happen, but they are explored with a realism that gives dignity to the characters without forcing a moral, judgmental structure onto the viewing experience. Hill of Freedom is about a young Japanese man called Mori who comes to Korea to find an ex-lover he feels he has failed in some way in the past.   He writes letters to his ex- lover, Kwon, letting her know of his experiences in Korea and waits for her arrival at a guest-house.   The order of the film follows the order that Kwon reads all the letters; she reads the

La Grande Bellezza "The Great Beauty" (film)

La Grande Bellezza "The Great Beauty" (Directed by Paolo Sorrentino)/2013 The Great Beauty is a lush, sensual, dream-like wondering through modern-day Rome.  In it we witness the juxtaposition and the hidden layers behind modern life seen through the eyes of a successful theatre critic named Jep.  Jep has set out to achieve what he wanted in his career: ultimate fame.  Jep has spent many decades pursuing pleasure and establishing himself to be THE party of Rome.  Upon his 60 th birthday Jep decides that he will not do anything that he does not want to do anymore.  However he begins to question the worthiness in pursuing pleasure and beauty, and its perceived lack of spirituality. Feeling reflective, Jep seeks out old friends and acquaintances.  People from the past before he rose to fame, people who are perhaps more “real”.  At the same time he sees his friends, whom he partied with for decades leave Rome in disappointment, not finding anything true to their existenc

Bloodline (TV Show)

Bloodline (Created by Glenn Kessler, Todd Kessler and Daniel Zelman)/2015-2017 Bloodline is a show about how resentment of past ills destroys families and lives. It centers on the Rayburn family, who we discover to have an external façade of happiness and success painted over a troubled past. The dark events of the past are mostly hidden from the outside, primarily due to the exclusion of the eldest son Danny, who we find is distrusted by all of his family apart from his mother (played by Sissy Spacek). The show begins with the arrival of Danny in the small town in Florida where his family own a resort. Danny is played brilliantly by Ben Mendelsohn. Wow, what an actor. He executes the fine line between charm and manipulation with subtlety and depth. Very early in the show we find out two things about Danny: firstly, that he is the victim of an unfortunate past that has left him with pain and substance abuse problems; and secondly, eventually he will be murdered by siblings una

Amadeus (film)

Amadeus (Directed by Milos Forman)/1984 A huge hit in 1984, Milos Forman’s Amadeus has fallen out of popular consciousness to a great extent. Part of this may be due to its cartoonish visual qualities, and the blatant projection of 1980s American culture onto 18th Century Vienna. It maybe also be partly due to the failure of the lead actor Tom Hulce to do anything else of importance. While Amadeus is an extremely bad movie if watched as a historical representation of true events, it is a great movie if appreciated on its own terms. Amadeus presents Mozart as an 18th century version of a contemporary rock-star. Mozart is a musical visionary that wants to make beautiful music, but is continuously constrained and judged by the conservative elites that commission his works. He develops a serious alcohol addiction, and slowly loses his mind. He comes across as childish and without any concern with social expectation, while the jealous Salieri is constrained by his inability t

Werkmeister Harmonies (film)

Werkmeister Harmonies (Directed by Béla Tarr)/2000 A whale came into town, carried in a long circus truck.  Everyone is curious: there is an electric tension in the air.  The whale is accompanied by a sideshow of a “prince”.  What is this “prince”? compared with the magnificent whale?: a man-made institution without any inherent value but the deluded people confer on him. Werkmeister Harmonies is a cinematic portrayal of magical realism similar to the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabella Allende.  While Marquez and Allende deal with revolutions in South America, Werkmeister Harmonies deals with the Soviet occupation of Hungary.  In doing so, it looks at the feebleness and absurdity of human existence in the face of the great and wondrous universe. The film opens with a sweet interpretive dance by an unlikely crowd: a tavern full of men,  each dancing as a planet in our solar system.  Despite the modest and barren surroundings the narrative and the dance together brings