Here I am setting a new blog’s section this Monday. I’m writing in an uni’s computer so whatever unexpected event may happen I hope I’m able to publish this today. I love cinema. It runs in the family I guess. My granfather used to take my mother to the films when she was a little child, without paying any sort of attention to the restrictions in age and other things model parents are always worried of. My mother did exactly the same with my sis and I. This occasionated some traumas to my over-sensitive personality (taking a five-year-old to watch Princess Mononoke may be an interesting experiment). But the important thing is today I’m a cinema lover so my mum is satisfied as all her efforts were not in vain.
In this section I want to do a recount of all the films I’ve watched during the week and I’ll give special attention to the features in them I’ve enjoyed most.
1. Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki (2001)
The first film I watched was Spirited Away. Of course it was not the first time as this is my favourite film. I won’t talk about it because there is so much to say. I watched it for the first time when I was eleven. It touched me in a inspiring deep way. I think is the only film I can watch over and over again without getting tired of it but the opposite. I like it even more. It’s quite a spoky story, but I recommend it to anyone who wants an unusual tale beautifuIlly told in both, form and meaning. If after watching it you consider you’ve lost most of the encovered meanings I encourage you to google about Japanese religion and culture, as the film has taken so much inspiration from both of them.
2. The girl who leapt through time by Mamoru Hosoda (2006)
Have you ever dreamt about having the ability to go fowards and backwards through time? I have done so, for sure. Once you know future you can rewrite the present to make it more pleasant. You may turn your own life in a fantasy! I, as many other people, regret deeply occassions that were or never were. I’d change so many things if I had the chance. The happy-go-lucky girl of this story achieves this power by coincidence. First it proves to be very valuable as it actually saves her life. Then she uses it for almost everything in her life from passing difficult exams to enjoying her favourite dinner over and over.
This film has two ideas undergoing the aparently simple story of a seventeen-year-old student whose only worries are to have fun after highschool with her two male friends. First the phylosophical question: If we had the chance to change the past, would this affect not only our future but the lives of others? The other topic is the meaning of friendship and the implications of the first love. What are the risks of starting a love affair with a friend? Because one girl and two boys… it was pretty obvious that hormones couldn’t remain in calm and relax.
What I liked more in this film was the protagonist, Makoto. She is a natural realistic girl and I could feel indentificated with her, something that usually is harder with female protagonists in films. (At least for me, women are portrayed in a too stereotiped way and male characters are far more interesting). I specially enjoyed the scene in which (spoiler!) her friend Chiaki asks her to go out and she feels so overwhealmed she repeats it again and again with her leapting-through-time abilities. She tries to do everthing possible to change this fact but one way or another Chiaki always ends by confessing his feelings to her. So in the end she just runs away from him to avoid the complications. She doesn’t want a lover, she just wants her best friend. From that point the film, which was wonderful, focuses on the romantic side of the story.
And this was precisely what I didn’t enjoy that much. In a naïve, intimate film such as this one I didn’t expect a Romeo and Juliet-s story- like romance. I just felt it was somehow stick to the plot and didn’t come naturally. And the end was again too epic and to speaking the truth it let me shocked. On the other hand, the animation is not that good if we compare it with any of Miyazaki’s films, but as I said, the way Makoto was portrayed was truly realistic and that is an undeniable good point about this film.
Aparently, the film is based on a novel and a manga, which told the story of Makoto’s aun (a secondary character in the film who was very misterious). Just in case the end is not enough and you want to take a closer look to the plot.
If you are fan of anime films, you have seen Miyazaki’s ones and you crave for more good stuff of Japanese animation I definitely recommend you this one.
3. Priest by Antonia Bird (1994)
I watched this fil because when my sis fell in love with the Scottish actor Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin) she just got all his films. And he has a secondary (but important) role in this one. Priest is the story of a Catholic priest (obvious, I know) from Liverpool. Now, Catholicism is not the major religion in UK but it has adepts. Father Greg is a handsome strict young priest who comes to Liverpool for the first time. He is really handsome (did I say that already?) I’d go to church just to wacth him closer, no offernse if you’re Catholic.
He is this kind of person who believes following right away the rules we believe in makes us better persons. I feel really indentificated with him because I’ve the same personality. Having ideals and what’s more, the strenght to follow them always, no matter the effort or obstacles, this trains the will. And will is the condition which makes us humans. Nevertheless, when someone is so focused on following commandments that she or he forgets about feeling or intuitions, then… then they are rigid. And rigidness is something that always ends killing us. Really. Life is pure adaptation. You can be a robust dinosaur but then it comes a meteorite or whatever and… bum! You’re just history. I think this was (among many other things) the meaning of this film.
What I liked more (spoilers!) was the love scenes in the film which, I’d rather point out, was directed by a woman. First the passionate still guilty love Greg feels when he’s with Graham, his gay lover. They don’t have just a thing for each other. They know their story is very difficult but still they try and that is courage… and maybe innocence. They have few encounters but very emotional ones. They are even sweet. I don’t usually like romantic stuff but sometimes I get a bit emotional… Then, another love relationship (more the friendship kind) is portrayed between Greg and Mattew, his flatmate and also Catholic priest from this church in Liverpool. They are very different at the beginning. But the more they know each other the more they get along. I think Mattew, a character than can be seen as both, a hypocrit or a visionary, gives Greg the most valuable gift: acceptance. He just normalizes the homosexuality of the protagonist. In a world full of expentances, fake appearances and illusions acceptance is the only path if we want to approach another’s soul.
The film might be a bit foreseeable but I enjoyed it too much to care. It is interesting, the actors do a great job and it shakes our conscience with some questions.
Shall rules be broken to save others? Is it desirable to be a martyr? Can a Catholic be gay and still able to call himself a Catholic? Does religion help humanity to develop or is humanity who makes Religion develop?
4. Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach (2012)
It seems that now is fashionable again to make films in black and white. The white ribbon, The artist, Blancanieves, Nebraska or Ida are the ones I saw recently. So when I went to watch Frances Ha at the cinema last Thursday I just thought: here we are again. Let’s see. I had previously seen this film advertised along with East Pak bags and I didn’t like that. Art and publicity mixed? No, thanks. I’m not a person who thinks she is cool for having this branded bag. So somehow I believed this film to be swallow… as the advert. Now I see I was completely wrong…
Frances Ha tells the story of a girl, Frances (obvious again) and how she faces the unavoidable separation from her best friend. The story is described in a very original way: we follow France’s places, that’s it, the houses and flats where she lives. She becomes a nomad the moment she is dropped out from her ‘home’ (the flat in New York she shared with her best friend) until she finally accomplishes her own house. You can see all her addresses if you check the movie’s webpage, which is pretty cool.
Now, this is the story of a person that undergoes destruction and then re-builds herself. Nevertheless, you shoudln’t expect to find a tortured character. Frances is cheerful, funny, naïve, innocent and hugely loyal. When life puts her in complicated trials, the kind of events a normal person (as me) would feel as something insulting and unfair to the point of crying and screaming and hating the whole world even for just a second… She just takes it easy. She trusts everyone. She gives without caring if she recieves or not something back. She makes a fool of herself and still she is not as ashamed as we’d be in her shoes. What can I said? I’ve read some critical reviews about this film and all of them were about the eternal adolescence of her protagonist. Yes, she is innocent or naïve as a child. But, is this a defect? We are taught to take everything seriously. Too seriously. And then, we’re overwhelmed under responsabilities and rules. And then, one day we realized we’ve accomplished everthing we were supposed to but not what we truly want. And this makes us unhappy, angry, embittered.
This is what happens to Sophie, France’s friend. She leaves her uncomplicated life with Frances because she, as most of us, wants to evolve. At first, (spoilers!) she wants to live in a fancier district of New York. She works as an editor for Random House. She earns money. So now she should move out to a more expensive place, that’s how it’s supposed to work. And then, she moves out with her boyfriend. And next thing, she drops out her job when his boyfriend is offered a better-paid job at… Japan. She moves to Japan and lives there even if she hates it. She seems to hate some facts about her boyfriend too. But in the end of the film she marries him. On the other hand, Frances is just a childish girl who doesn’t want any boyfriend (she minds her best friend more). She dances as a apprentice in a dance company when she is not precisely a success. She ends up by working as a secretary for the same dance company after being fired from it. In her spare time she is a coreographer, though.
Two friends and different paths. One follows the conventional one. The other recieves many criticts (Frances is criticised for being an eternal teenager by almost every character in the movie). Nevertheless, when I watched the movie I felt I liked France’s existance more. She tries to enjoy life. She just copes with it. She even made me feel a bit bad about myself. She is so loyal and good with other people when I am usually so cautious. I liked this film because it made me realise that naïvity can be also an advantage. They always say, ‘an ignorant is always happy’.
So what do you want to be, intelligent or happy? what do you want to do with your life, overcome obstacles or just… enjoy whatever comes?
For me it’s pretty clear, he, he…