It has been a while since the Modern Warfare 3 review and it is good to be back. I got a chance to see three amazing films over the past few weeks and I wanted to share my thoughts on them. They really cover the board – Film Noir, Oscar Nominated, Experimental – and yet I found that all of them really deal with the same themes. I have been really looking forward to these three films and am excited to cross them off my list, but beyond that I am happy to report that each of them was really good! So, without further ado, please enjoy this review trifecta on stories of Brokenness and Love.
I know – not what first comes to mind when you think of a love story but I assure you it is there. The Hollywood classic about Hollywood itself, Sunset Boulevard was an incredible homage to the film world of yester-year as told from the 1950’s. It centers around fading Silent-era star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and her decline into madness as her need for love is slowly denied. She clings desperately to hope that failing writer Joe Gillis might be able to revive her broken career and her broken self – falls for him.
The film is a beautiful example of Film Noir used outside of the standard, gritty detective story. It is about how fallen we are, pointing to every flaw and trouble that a star in the spotlight (or out of it) faces and reveals exactly how cut-throat the movie world really is. Because no love is shared by either of the protagonists, the film depicts the tragedy of a world without love and the terrible affects love and lack of it can have on people. It is a beautifully dark film that shows us how fallen we really are.
I really enjoyed the film for what it was. Noir isn’t my typical style, so I always have a bit of trouble getting into it, but Sunset Boulevard really captured my attention and was absolutely amazing to watch. I recommend it as a classic that any true fan of film should see and as an interesting look at a world without true (dare I say, Christian) love.
That is Right! I got a chance to see the front-runner for the Best Picture Academy Award before the ceremony in February and I have to say that I absolutely fell in love with this film. It was beautiful, it was respectful, it captured my heart and reminded me why I make and study Film. And it perfectly fits into the themes of brokenness and love.
In case you haven’t heard about this phenomenal picture, The Artist is, like Sunset Boulevard, an homage to Hollywood’s glorious birth during the silent era. The film is shot in black and white, in the classic 4:3 picture aspect ratio (Standard instead of Widescreen), and the story is told with absolutely no audible dialogue. The do break a few of the original Silent Era filming techniques (for example – complex moving camera shots) but the overall feel is not that it should be a silent film but that it is paying it’s respects to the origins of Hollywood cinema and the stars that made it big.
What captured me most was the beautifully archaic story it told and how it made use of modern techniques and sensibilities to recreate that style while allowing the medium of the visual motif to tell the story. In essence it is a good old-fashioned love story about a man and woman who grow closer to each other from a chance encounter. Yet, the filmmakers were able to work in a fantastic plot element of role-reversal and they wonderfully chose to up the stakes by making the man extremely broken. Jean Dujardin’s character slips further and further into pride which leads him deeper into depression and the only thing able to break him out of it is the redemptive and forgiving power of love.
Not saying more on the story to avoid spoilers, I HIGHLY recommend you take the time to find a theater showing it around you and see what I, for one, hope will be the Best Picture of 2011.
Paris Je T’aime
No, it’s not Black & White and no, it isn’t Noir. In fact, in almost all ways it isn’t like either of the two previous films. I had seen parts of it before and had left it with a faulty memory of it being…I shall call it “morally questionable”. However, upon revisiting the film, I found it to be absolutely gorgeous snapshot of Humanity – capturing as many sides of the amalgamous thing we call love.
Beautifully orchestrated, the series of short vignettes directed by and starring famous individuals gives the viewer at once a broad overview of the desire we all have for personal connection and individual case studies into small aspects of it. I love that we get the traditional romance stories mixed with tales of what we are willing to do, sacrifice, and fight for love. My personal favorites are “Loin du 16o”, “Parc Monceau” – directed by Alfonso Cuaron, “Tour Eiffel”, and “Place des Fetes”. Each segment is stunning in its own way and truly beautiful. I adore this film as I adore the city which I only yet dreamed about and I recommend it to you if you want to be reminded that their is some good still out there in the world.
So there you have it! Three films fitting by happenstance into one glorious pattern. As Blaise Pascal said, which I love to quote, “Greatness, wretchedness. The more enlightened we are, the more greatness and vileness we discover in man…”. In our search for truth and understanding, we find ourselves drawn to how utterly broken, alone, and terrified we are — blind people flailing about in a dark forest, trying to find a path. Yet, as each of these films points out, there exists a great, glowing, wonderful thing by which we can all find hope. And that thing is love: pure, uncomplicated, and entirely unfathomable love which unites all people. From the world without in Sunset Boulevard, we see how desperately we seek out the light emanating from another person’s heart. The Artist reminds us that even though the twilight is upon us and things only seem to be getting darker, that if we are willing to reach out a hand and grasp another’s things can only be bright. And finally, the City of Love itself shows us how wonderfully complex, infinitely deep, and impossibly joyful is the simple soul-touching of love. Perhaps I am just a Romantic by pen but deep in my heart I know I long for this sort of connection to my friends, my family, and my God. That is what keeps me going in the hard times, gives me joy in the days of ease, and drives me onward in my study of the magical bonding found by storytelling.
That felt really good to gush like that. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed my reviews of the three films and, as always, I invite you to leave your thoughts down below on any of the three films or my analysis of them. As the weeks roll on and I am able to catch a few more of the Oscar contending films, I will try to post my full reviews of each in comparison to each other and then make my predictions for who will win each category. Maybe.
Also, I am busy working on a Quickee post for Art of the Trailer so be looking for that soon. Thanks for sticking around and I look forward to bringing you more reviews soon!