The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

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I had a visit from The Kid in the Front Row

with 10 comments

The Kid in the Front Row has been a busy bee lately. Not only has he been incredibly productive at his own blog (which I appreciate since I’m a fan of his writings), he has also invited us all to participate in a blogathon.

The idea was that the Kid wanted to get to know us all a bit better. So he took a bunch of questions with him – different for every blog – and took a bar tour, visiting every blog that was up for it.

The other night, time had come for him to drop by The Velvet Café and we had this conversation over a drink:

I think our blogs are kind of similar in design. Pretty plain, white background. Why do you go for that kind of design?

I’m not that much into blogs that look like Christmas trees. It’s distracting, it gives me a headache and it’s not safe for work. Unless you’re running a photo blog, it’s your writings that attract me, not your decorations. I don’t shy away from walls of texts. I enjoy them, as long as you make sure to break it up with new paragraphs when needed. So basically I have the type of layout that works fine for me as a reader.

I’m sure my design could be improved if I had those skills myself. But since I don’t I’ve decided to save myself a headache and just stick with a standard WordPress template. I picked one that I thought was reader-friendly with a white background that would let the content speak for itself.

Your style is quite casual, it has a certain joy to it — yet, you manage to ram a lot of information and knowledge into it. How do you do that? I would like to steal this skill.

Thank you so very much! That’s really flattering. I honestly don’t have any good answer to that. I’m glad you can spot the joy in the writing and that you think it’s casual. I think writing in English makes me a little bit more formal than I would have been if I’d used my native language, Swedish. It’s only when you’re very good at a language that you can play around with it and treat it with less respect and more imagination. If anything I’d like to become more casual and more joyful than I am now. Perhaps I will as time goes by.

I often find that people whose first language isn’t English are more creative with the language. We learn English when we’re small, and we aren’t really aware of the rules. Everyone else learns about grammar and meaning far more than we do. My foreign friends often teach me a lot about the English language!

Do you think your blogging has changed at all since you started?

I’ve only been running this blog since July 2011 and I don’t think I’ve changed that much over this time. Perhaps I’ve started to talk about films with a little bit more of confidence as I’ve gotten more used to writing reviews, which was a new thing for me to do. I’ve found my film blogging voice.

I guess I’m also constantly improving my English, but that’s a long and slow process that has been going on for several years. When I first started to do this, on a different blog a few years ago, it was painstakingly hard. I basically wrote everything in Swedish first and then translated it. After a while I started to translate it in my head. Nowadays my brain switches over and I think in English whenever I’m blogging. I still make mistakes of course, but the writing is a lot easier.

Do you dream in Swedish, or English?

I have no idea to be honest. Sadly enough I don’t remember any dreams. I’ve always imagined they’re mostly wordless though.

I think we like a lot of similar films. Like ‘Eternal Sunshine..’, ‘Together’, ‘Into The Wild’ — you say on your ‘About me’ section that your tastes are ‘wild and unpredictable’ – but do you really think that’s true?

I actually think my range is comparatively wide. It seems to me as if many bloggers are into either one thing or another. Some stick to small art house productions that barely are shown outside of festivals. Others will barely watch anything outside of the box office top lists, and barely ever anything with subtitles. I think I watch all sorts of movies. I also try to stay true to my own feelings towards them, not necessarily worshipping movies that are considered classics, just because it’s expected from my. Because of this approach I think that you can’t always predict what kind of movies I’ll watch and like. I don’t see a specific pattern in my move taste apart from that I’m much into science fiction. Perhaps it would be easier for an outsider to spot it.

I’m interested in knowing more about you and your life, if you’re willing to share. It’s the little things that interest me — like, what do you have planned for tomorrow?

I’m more than willing to share; I think I share a lot more of my life outside of the movie watching than most film bloggers do. The reviews aren’t really reviews in a traditional sense, but more of jumping spots – an excuse for me to ramble about anything that comes to my mind and share stories from my life.

I think the regular guests at The Velvet Café know a great deal already, so I’m not sure if I can up with much that will surprise them. But ok, my plans for tomorrow you said, so here you are:

I’m writing this on a Friday night. Every second Friday I go to a guild sorting under the Tolkien society in Stockholm, where we train all sorts of historical dances, for instance the ones you see in Pride and Prejudice. However this Friday is a night off, so here I am writing this post instead. I’ve just been driving one of my daughters to a party in the other end of the city. Or rather she drove and I was sitting beside, since she’s about to take her driver’s license.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m going to watch a Norwegian movie, Sons of Norway. It’s only been up for a week but they’re already taking it away so I need to hurry. This is my last chance to see it. It’s got a punk rock theme and seems fun for some who was into that back in the days.

And then there are duties waiting, such as doing the big weekly shopping tour to get groceries. I hate that. But listening to a bunch of good podcasts makes it more enjoyable.

On Sunday I’m going to do train another of my interests, iaido, which is Japanese swords art. So far my attempts to look like a dangerous samurai are laughable. It will take me many years of training before I even have learned the basics of it. But so what? This is most of all about reaching a state of mind when you’re absolutely focused on one thing. There’s nothing that soothes my mind like imagining that I’m chopping the head off invisible enemies!

I’m getting scared now. Not really. What podcasts do you listen to?

I listen to far too many to mention them all I’m afraid, but I’ll give you a few examples. Kermode & Mayo’s film review is my favorite film podcast, hands down. Filmspotting is another great film podcast. They don’t review as many of the current movies, but they dive deeper into the films and also talk about old films, which I appreciate. Jeff Goldsmith makes wonderful interviews with screenwriters in his Q & A show. I’m really into storytelling and The Moth never disappoints me. Wonderful stories there. For general pop culture entertainment I dive into Pop Culture Happy Hour and Slate Cultural Gabfest. For great and thoughtful conversations I listen to WTF with Marc Maron and Mental Illness Happy Hour. Dan Savage is also a great podcaster. I like his insight and he gives glimpses into a lot of worlds I never would have dreamed of existed.

Have you ever been jealous of someone else’s blog?

“Jealous” is a very strong word with a lot of negative luggage. But for sure, sometimes when I read something excellent I can feel a pang, wishing I was as good as that writer. If you want me to name someone, you’re one of those whose talent I can envy. However it’s not a feeling I’ll dwell on for too long. It won’t make you any good. Besides while I’m usually fairly competitive in my mindset, it’s not the case with my blogging. I’m not making a living on it; I’m not looking for fame or getting a job through it. I’m just having this conversation because I enjoy movie watching and writing and connecting to other people. Basically I should just relax. There’s no reason to be jealous.

Thank you for the kind words re my blog. I think we’re all in a similar boat. It’s that unspoken thing, the jealousy thing. I think everyone feels it at certain times. The important thing is how you handle it.

Yes, I think it basically has to do with the insecurity we all feel when we put out ourselves the way we do. There is an exhibitionistic side of blogging that we rarely admit, but it’s there. Deep down we crave for confirmation. When people show their love for our posts or comment on them, we get a kick out of it. And when they don’t, it’s easy to start doubting yourself. I’m trying not to pay too much attention to it though and I don’t pay much attention to the statistics for my blog. In the end I’m not blogging to please an audience. I’m blogging to get to peace with myself.

What have you enjoyed most about blogging?

I’ve found my way back to the joy of writing, which basically was gone for a few years. I do this for fun and not for a living, which makes quite a difference. I also enjoy all those unexpected meetings I’ve gotten through it. Whenever I reach out, there will be someone there touching me, reaching out from the other side of the world. It never ceases to amaze me. The more you give out of yourself, the more you get.

And that’s all for this time. Thank you for dropping by Kid in the Front Row! It was a pleasure. I hope it won’t be the last time. And who knows, perhaps you’ll get a return visit?

Other bloggers who got a visit from the Kid:

Ryan at The Matinee
Steeve at Cinematic Paradox
Aiden at Cut the Crap Movie Reviews

Written by Jessica

April 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Your mother may not be what you think she is

with 19 comments

Isn’t it about time that we stop assuming things about people just because they have a certain age?

Why do we always have to bring up our mothers whenever we’re talking about a movie that is the slightest scary or difficult to watch? There seems to be an expectation that once you’ve hit 50, your preferences will change dramatically. You want your movies to be about families and relationships and star Meryl Streep and you’re too squishy to watch anything harsher than an ear slap.

Prejudices
Recently I listened to an episode of LAMBcast, where the theme of the night was “movies that I love but can’t recommend to others”. One of the panellists brought up Black Swan, making a reference to his mother. Apparently this movie would be more than she could stomach.

Of course this guy knows his mother best, so we have to believe that this movie would be a bad fit for her. But what bugs me a little is that this image is used so often that it has become a cliché. Middle-aged mothers can’t cope with action, violence or weird stuff. And this just isn’t true.

First of all I need to point out that I’ve been guilty of doing this myself, over and over again. I’ve dismissed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel since the trailer showed so many older actors. Surely that couldn’t be for me. Speaking of prejudices! Since then I’ve seen quite a few reviewers speaking nicely of it, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to see it. I’m not like “them.” I’m not THAT old.

Earlier this week I talked about my mother-in-law and her love for sandwich cake and The Help. The fact that she liked the movie was off-putting to me. “Because we all know what mothers-in-law are like, right?” I didn’t spell out the last thing, but you could read it between the lines.

I really need to stop doing this. I don’t like when people jump into conclusions about me based on my increasing number of gray hair, so why do I do the same thing to others?

Rock concerts
The other night I watched the sci-fi movie In Time. It takes place in a world where people stop aging physically at 25. This means that there’s no way to tell whether you’re looking at the 25 year old girl, her mother who is 60 or her grand-grand mother who is 100 years plus. They all look gorgeous. In real life we’re not there quite yet, though in a hundred years medical science and plastic surgery might have brought us closer to it. However as of the personal preferences of music, film and arts, we’re not that far off. And people seem to forget that all the time.

The last two summers I’ve I attended the same rock festival as my teenage daughter. My main reason to be there was to be around for her, knowing from experiences how messed up festivals can be. But this didn’t prevent me from enjoying the concerts and when it was time for one of my favourite bands to play, I made sure to get a spot close to the scene, where I’m used to be – dancing and losing myself in the music. There were times when I was about double as old as the guys around me, but I didn’t give a crap and neither did my daughter. She’s wise enough to see that there are advantages in sharing the taste for music, movies and clothes with your mother, if nothing else financial.

The walls are falling
Just because someone turns 40 it doesn’t mean that we automatically ditch our taste for heavy metal, punk music or wherever your heart is for Frank Sinatra. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Sinatra, I just use him for stereotyping purposes.) And if we ever reach the point in our lives when we need to move into a home for elderly people, there’s nothing that says that we want to replace our computer games with bridge playing.

The walls between the generations have already tumbled down. The world isn’t what it used to be. Everything is fluid – age, national identity, gender. So why not embrace it?

Perhaps you still want to keep your mother in the little box where you think mothers belong because it gives you a sense of security. But your mother may not be what you think she is.

The British critic Mark Kermode is the biggest fan of horror movies that I know of. But do you know who’s on the second place?

My mother. She’s turning 68 this year.

Written by Jessica

April 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

If you’re really into movies you might not want to work in the film industry

with 32 comments

I have a question for you.

Do you know what you want to work with for the rest of your life?

I wish I did. At the age of 44 I’m still fumbling in the darkness. Deep down I realize that doors probably are closing every day, but I cling to the idea that they’re all still open. The opportunities are endless if I only could make up my mind.

If only!

My ideal job would be one that I was moderately passionate about. For sure you should enjoy what you’re doing. But the things that you enjoy most of all are the things that you rather should keep as a hobby, so you can keep enjoy doing them.

I know there are a lot of people in the film blogosphere who secretly (or sometimes not so secretly) hope to one day get into the business side of film. To get PAID to do what you love so much that you spend all your free time doing it anyway. Could it be better?

It can. If you don’t believe me, a comment that I stumbled over at A Life in Equinox perhaps can serve as an eye-opener. The comment was made to a post where Univarn talks about how blogging about movies has sucked the fun out of movie watching and why he needs a break. It’s as heartbreaking as it’s honest and I recommend you to read it.

And here’s what ”Ilsa” wrote in her reply:

” Many people feel this ennui in the entertainment industry. For me, I wanted to work in entertainment my whole life; I watched hours and hours of TV/movies growing up. I loved disappearing in the worlds on the screen. To make this comment short, since then, I’ve been living in LA for over 10 years. I’ve worked on big films and with big stars and for 3 major studios.

Despite these great life experiences, I can no longer watch movies. At all. I can’t even go to the theater. I can only watch TV if I multi-task on the computer.

It’s like the magic is gone. When I was younger, I could disappear for hours into movies, but now that I know how movies are made and how the business is really run (surprise! it’s not just insanely creative people running around having loads of fun!), it just ruins the magic.

So, recently, I took time away from the industry to pursue creative interests of my own. This hiatus definitely helped get my creative juices flowing although, not so much that I can go back to the theater.

I hope that your own hiatus re-invigorates your joy in movie watching!”

My experiences
This resonates so much with me. The way she describes how she can’t work with movies anymore, how she can’t even go to a theatre after working in the industry, reminds me of when I had a paid position a non-profit organization.

My employer had a very good reputation among people, so when I told them about my job, they often gave me that special look consisting of equal amounts of envy and admiration.

I’m not sure what they thought I was doing all day long. In reality I had an ordinary office job, consisting of an awful lot of planning and reporting. But in their eyes I was living the dream! I was working for a Good Cause and made a living on it! And I got to see all those awesome people who were committed to do the same thing all day long, I must be the happiest person in the world!

It was just that I wasn’t. In the end a job is a job is a job. If anything this particular job was WORSE than any other I had had, since all the idealistic people assembling around the organization expected us to perform miracles out of no budget at all. No matter how hard we worked, we were bound to let the believers down. But there was no way I could explain this to anyone.

Eventually I left the organization, on the verge of a burn-out, which I’m still recovering from. And even at this point, years after, I don’t buy anything wearing the label of my former employer, regardless if it would be for a good cause. It still gives me bad vibes. Been there, done that, thank you very much. I’ve developed resistance against this particular brand of magic sparkles.

The privilege of the amateur
I assume that not all people who work in the film industry hit the wall. While many of them fake it, I believe that some of them sparkle for real. They love what they’re doing, even if it’s probably pretty far from what people assume that they’re doing in the film industry.

But still: I think there are more Ilsas out there than we realize: people who lost their heart to movies so badly that they started to work with them professionally, with the consequence that they’ve lost their appetite for it altogether.

Rather than sulking over that we won’t get a job in the film industry, perhaps we should rejoice over that we don’t have to walk that path.

Being an amateur doesn’t mean that you’re bad at what you’re doing. It means that you’re a “lover”, strictly translated from the Latin origin.

We love what we do. And we want to keep that love. We want to feel the magic, either we watch a movie, write about movies or even make our own movies at home.

So we find something else to work with for the rest of our lives, something that we like but don’t love. Something we can afford losing.

The question is what that is. I’ve got just about half of my life left to figure it out. Wish me luck.

Written by Jessica

April 19, 2012 at 12:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

My Sandwich cake musings over The Help

with 20 comments

It took me a long while to get around watching The Help.

I don’t know what it was that put me off so much. Perhaps it was the poster. There’s something about intensively yellow film posters that irks me.

To be honest it might have to do with that my mother-in law recommended it so strongly. This is a bit embarrassing since it reveals my prejudices against mothers-in-law, but that will be a topic for another post.

Suits everyone
There was just something about The Help that reminded me of the typical Swedish dish “Smörgåstårta”, “sandwich cake”. For foreign readers: a sandwich cake is what it sounds like: a cake that is made out of sandwich ingredients. Apart from bread it usually contains ingredients such as egg, shrimps, mayonnaise, caviar and salmon.  I guess the idea is that there should be something in it for everyone. It’s supposed to be a safe card – not too spicy, not too foreign, not too challenging. For sure people won’t remember it, but they’ll eat it. At least that’s the idea. As of me: I hate it and I won’t eat as much as a spoonful of it, not even to make someone else happy. I’m a sworn enemy of smörgåstårta, period.

Needless to say my mother-in-law takes every chance she gets to serve smörgåstårta, and she also took every opportunity to recommend The Help. And I think that’s why I came to connect The Help with the dish. My brain had wired them together so I stayed away.

It wasn’t until last week that I finally caved in and rented it. To be perfectly honest I had the same reason to pick it as people who serve sandwich cake: the lowest common determinator. I tried to find something that various family members might have an interest in, and The Help seemed like a good choice. Or at least I that was what I thought in the video rental shop.

In the end it turned out that my daughter passed on it, referring to it as something intended for older people. She wasn’t keen on watching movies intended for her grandmother. I had myself to blame of course. I had been too successful transferring my prejudices to the next generation.

Eager to please
At that point however I already brought the cake home with me. So what could I do? I cut a slice. I cut one more. Actually I ate the whole thing and didn’t feel bad about it at all. It was surprisingly easily digested and tasted better than I had feared. If this was a sandwich cake, it had a better recipe than the average.

I don’t deny that it’s eager to please – possibly a little bit too eager for its own good. It’s a little bit generic and predictable, and like with all sandwich cakes, it lacks spiciness.

On the other hand you could as well look at it from another direction, arguing that this is a piece of classical, well crafted Hollywood production – easy to get into, easy to engage in, providing a nice balance between laughter and tears. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing!

I was moved, more than I had expected to be, and some of the acting performances were classy. I don’t argue about the win of Octavia Spencer or nomination of Viola Davis. I didn’t buy into Allison Allison Janney’s character, which I feel a bit guilty about. I suppose it’s not her fault, but for me she’s eternally stuck in the role of CJ and I can never quite see her as anyone else, as little as Larry Hagman could get out of Dallas. The curse of strong TV series performances.

A reminder
So this was the top layer of this cake, but let’s dig a little bit deeper and look at what lies under. Let’s look at the message and the politics about The Help. Because this is the point where I get confused.

The thing is: I don’t walk around daily thinking about how things used to be before I was born, which is not too long ago thinking of it, how abhorrent the racial laws were and what courage and efforts it took to make them change. As far as I recall, history classes in school usually ended somewhere around WWII. Of course I know those things happened, but it’s not top on mind.

For this reason it felt as a bit of an awakening to get this reminder about phenomena such as special seats on buses and weird ideas about keeping separate toilets for people of different skin colour. All those practices that seem barbarian now were common practice not that long ago. And if I, a middleaged woman, had forgotten about it, how aware are the younger generations? Do they even know or do they take the current situation for granted?

I honestly didn’t see any wrong with the movie in this aspect, on the contrary, I thought the intention and the message was great. For sure, it shows a society that is under influence of racist ideas, but this doesn’t mean that the film conveys racism anymore than Mad Men is discriminating for showing mistreated women. If anything The Help was a source of inspiration, particularly to upcoming generations. You too can make a change. Even if it scares you, even if the consequences can be bad, you can and should speak up about injustices.

Politically incorrect?
But from what I’ve picked up from the internet buzz, it seems as if the film wasn’t perfectly OK from a political standpoint, and this is what I can’t quite wrap my head around it. The best articulated criticism I’ve seen so far came from Wesley Morris (recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, that’s how I spotted him.) But I still can’t quite see the problem. So – the girl who writes the book is white and the maids are black. Wasn’t this how things were back in the days?

Perhaps it’s a blind spot, coming from my privileged position. Maybe I just don’t see all the traps and how you unintentionally discriminate minorities.

Or perhaps there isn’t any way to win this game? If you want to nitpick, you can always find a way.

The cake that was The Help might not be my favorite dish, but it was far from as bad as I’ve been told

The Help (Tate Taylor, US, 2011) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

April 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in The Help, Uncategorized

The rise and fall of a chess icon

with 15 comments

I was about to start this review with some statement about how slim the line is between genius and insanity.

I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but it felt like the natural thing to reflect over after watching Bobby Fisher against the World.

This is a documentary about an American chess player who went from fame and glory. In 1972 he grabbed the eyes of the entire world were fixed on him as he became the first American to become a challenger for the world champion title. The stakes were high, since this was in the middle of the cold war and the reigning champion was from the Soviet Union. He was the idol for millions of people, but soon he fell from the top to the bottom. Most of his life was spent in a state of mental illness and misery and he ended up as a fugitive from his home country, known for his bizarre conspiracy theories about Jews and the US government.

How could someone so smart all of a sudden do so stupid things? Did all those calculations about the billions of possible combinations on the chessboard and the efforts to anticipate every move from the opponent make his brain melt?

Can you be “too smart”?

I think quite a few of us would like to answer the last question with a “yes”. It gives a bit of comfort to all of us who aren’t particularly bright or good at chess. At least we can tell ourselves that we’re sane.

So we embrace the idea that genius and insanity are two sides of the same coin and that a chess master needs both.

However only took me a quick peak in Wikipedia to realize that the assumption was wrong. As a matter of fact there isn’t any confirmed link between being chess skills and intelligence. If anything there might be the opposite connection; one study hinted that smarter children were worse chess players.

Like Senna
So let’s leave that beginning and the faulty theory behind us and begin in a different end:

A few months ago I watched the documentary Senna about a Formula one driver from Brazil, who was as good at car racing as Bobby Fisher was at chess playing.

The film about Bobby Fisher reminds me a little bit of this. We get to follow the career of someone who is obsessed with what he’s doing and very good at it.

As opposed to Senna Bobby Fisher wasn’t very likable. In his youth he was arrogant and annoying, and from that things went worse until he ended up like a lunatic.

His ideas were repulsive and this film makes no secret of this. And yet I can’t help pitying him, or at least regretting that things turned out the way they did. All I feel when I watch this film is sadness. It was sad that he got badly hit by mental illness early in his life and that noone really could help him against himself. It was sad for him, it was sad for his family and friends, it was sad for the world.

Someone in the documentary compares it to as if Picasso only had gotten to paint for a few years instead of an entire life. There were so many chess games that never were played. Personally I can’t tell the difference, but from what they say Fisher’s way of playing was beautiful, like music. He was so exceptional at what he was doing that even his opponent, Boris Spasski, stood up and gave him applause out of admiration after losing one particularly well played game.

Not about chess
Only the very best documentaries have the ability to make you absorbed even if you don’t bother all that much about the topic as such. In the case of Senna I couldn’t have cared less about Formula one and yet it turned out to be among my top movies of 2011. And it’s the same thing with Bobby Fisher against the World.

I’m not interested in chess. I play it so rarely that I have to look up the start position for the pieces every time since I don’t remember how they’re supposed to stand. Besides I’m really bad, so I avoid it since I’m a bit competitive and don’t like the humiliation of losing.

But Bobby Fisher against the World isn’t about chess. It’s about the cold war, the media landscape and currents in the opinion at that time. It’s about a strange man with a beautiful, but broken mind.

It’s not as heartbreaking as Senna, but it’s just as fascinating and I can’t recommend it enough.

Bobby Fisher against the World (Liz Garbus, US, 2011) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

April 17, 2012 at 1:15 am

Movies we regret we’ve seen – if there are any?

with 46 comments

A whole bunch of Swedish film bloggers are writing posts on the same topic today: “A movie I regret I’ve seen”.

All of them but me.

Believe me: I thought long and hard about it. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got a bad memory, I’m easy to please or I’m good at avoiding movies that give me regrets. The result is the same: I couldn’t’ come up with a single one.

Pippi’s prickles
For sure it happens that I come across a movie once in a while that turn out to be pretty bad. But even a bad movie experience can turn into a good one. Actually a seriously crappy movie can be superior to an average one, since it makes for better discussion and blogposts. The more poisonous the rant is, the funnier is it to write and read.

I think I look on bad movies the same way as the Swedish icon Pippi Longstocking regards her freckles. One day she passes a beauty shop and sees a sign with the rhetorical question: “Do you suffer from prickles?”. She enters the shop and says loudly and clearly: “No!”. “I don’t suffer from freckles!”. “But dear child, says the shop keeper, you’ve got your entire face full of freckles!” “Yes, but I don’t suffer from them. I like them!”

Of course there have been occasions when I have had reasons to regret my choice of film for a night. There were several candidates and I picked one and afterwards I realized that I might have been happier with another movie. But usually I’ve had the chance to pick up with the other movie another night, so no harm was done in the end.

Sometimes I’ve regretted talking other people into seeing a certain movie. For instance there was this time when I brought my daughter to watch Pan’s Labyrinth in the belief that it was more or less a standard fantasy movie. Seeing how upset she became I felt like a horrible mother. And taking the entire family to watch Martha Marcy May Marlene as a Christmas movie experience probably wasn’t my best idea. However those regrets are recommendations I’ve made to others, not about my own movie watching, so I don’t think it counts.

Reasons for regrets
While I don’t have any regrets, I still tried to come up with some reasons which theoretically could make me regret watching a movie. I came up with three:

1. Too much gore to handle
At heart I’m a bit of a squishy. Until pretty recently I avoided anything that appeared to contain a lot of violence, especially if it was realistic. Chopping off heads of monsters wasn’t an issue. Abuse of children and rape however was more than I could stand to watch. Nowadays I force myself to watch movies even if they’re violent, movies such as Drive, which is too good to miss out. But I’m sure there are movies that I would regret watching if I did. Movies about human centipedes for instance. So I don’t.

2. A badly advised revisit
Some movies are better in your memory than in reality. You need to pick carefully which movies you visit again or you might end up with an unpleasant surprise.

This includes directors as well. Unfortunately not all of them can keep their hands off their work. So they go back and add 3D or temper with them just for the sake of tempering and getting a few more bucks out of it. I try to stay away from that kind of brush-ups. They’re just bound to give me regrets.

3. A heartbreaking failure
I walk into every movie I see with the best intentions. I want them to be good. I want them to be successful. And especially so when they involve an actor or director who I happen to like and admire. I never rejoice at the failure of someone else. I wish that I hadn’t seen it so I could pretend it didn’t exist.

But all of this is on the paper. In reality I chime in with Edit Piaf:

Non, je ne regrette rien.

And here are the regrets of my fellow Swedes. They’ve written in Swedish, but as always Google translate is your friend.

Addepladde – Paradise Lost
Blue Rose Case – The last house on the left
Except Fear – Grease
Fiffis filmtajm – Flying Virus
Filmitch – Varning för Jönssonligan
Filmr  – Highlander 2
Fripps filmrevyer – Raging Bull
Jojjenito – The Haunting
Plox
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord – Planet of the Apes (2001)
Voldo – Son of the Mask

Written by Jessica

April 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

But Heathcliff remains a mystery

with 13 comments

Heathcliff.

Please explain it to me.

Is there any reason why a woman should fall for him?

Pitying I can understand. It’s a shame that the kind man who brought this orphan to his family as an act of Christianity dies, leaving him to the mercy of the less than kind stepbrother.

But still. It boggles my mind how this guy could become a faint love interest for any girl. What do they see in him?

In Andrea Arnold’s version of Wuthering Heights, they’ve switched his skin colour, making him black instead of a gypsy, but as soon as you’ve gotten used to it, you see that it’s only the surface that has changed. He’s still as grumpy, violent, cruel, hateful and constantly swearing as ever before. Most of the time we see him, he’s staring sullenly, observing the world while saying nothing at all. Sometimes he gets violent and threatening. Very rarely does he seem to consider the interests of someone else, offering affection, friendship or love. Is he even capable of loving? Or are the cravings he apparently has for Catherine in fact a different force?

Heathcliff is someone who tortures puppies hanging them in bushes in their necklaces. So when Catherine finally decides to marry the rich brat of a neighbour rather than him, I don’t blame her for a second. Rather I wish that he would leave her alone, letting her live the rest of her life happily. But of course my hope is in vain. Heathcliff returns as he always does, to take out his aggression and get his revenge.

Not a romance
Compared to the novel, a lot of the story is left out. For instance the parts about the second generation are completely gone. But the core remains the same.

And I think to myself: maybe I’m doing it wrong when I’m looking for some kind of romantic love story about a couple that were made for each other but are wrongly kept apart by circumstances?

Maybe Brontë and Arnold didn’t intend me to cry over the misfortune of Heathcliff. It could be a different kind of story: one about the category of women who for some strange reason is attracted to men who treat them badly, heavy drinkers and abusers. Regardless of what they do, they’ll always excuse them since they’ve been treated badly in the past.

It could also be about physical attraction in its purest for, animalistic lust that has very little to do with romance and good behaviour. But if that was the case, I think Andrea Arnold misses the target a little. Apart from a little bit of innocent wresting in the mud, I don’t really sense the chemistry between Catherine and Heathcliff. The steam isn’t dense, so to say.

Taking cover
But let’s leave the Heathcliff mystery aside for a while. What did I think of the movie? Could I like it, even if I didn’t fully understand this relationship? Oh yes, absolutely! Above anything else I was absorbed by the cinematography. I’ve seen those areas on the screen before, but this was different. It felt as if someone for the very first time had managed to really capture the soul of the moor, showing the dampness, the loneliness and the darkness and at the same time the beauty of it.

I was so pulled into the landscape that it almost made me shiver. Instinctively I took cover under my parka, using it as a shield against the chill and the misery that poured out from the screen. I haven’t felt as cold as since I watched Winter’s Bone.

All those close-ups of plants and animals and insects might make you wonder a bit if Arnold or her cinematographer is planning for a career at the Discovery channel and I’ve seen some critics grumble about it. If you ask me, it’s what makes this movie so enjoyable despite all the misery. What could possibly be better than to explore the wildlife from your armchair, safe from blisters, thunderstorms and midges?

Heathcliff remains a mystery. But Andrea Arnold brought me closer to the moor. And for that I loved Wuthering Heights.

Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, UK, 2011) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

April 13, 2012 at 1:00 am