Tag Archives: Pedro Almodovar

As some of you might already know, 26th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival has started last Friday. Being a little lazy and busy with other exciting things, I missed the opportunity to see some of the films I have never heard about. Today however, I finally decided to use my press pass and see what it is like this year. And I have to say, it looks like a cinematic treat.
If I was only aware that my press pass has more to offer than just free screenings, I would probably try my best to attend the festival in the previous years. The moment I entered the Blue Room, in which press delegates and industry hangs out, I was welcomed with a free brownie, a book on Marlena Dietrich and feminist movement in queer cinema as well as a DVD. All of them looking pretentious and baring BFI’s proud logo (apart from the brownie, which was produced by unknown by my common taste German sounding company). Then I realised that I also get a lovely discount at all of BFI’s caffeterias and bars and with my one pound hot chocolate and a bag of goodies I went to see my first festival movie.

I still don’t get how this image relates to queer cinema…

 

Let me start with…

OUR PARADISE

Becomes this festival is all about celebration of human sexuality and identity, I will take this opportunity and write all of my festival reviews in this amazing pink colour. I guess there’s a drag queen in all of us…

So the first film I attended was a French thriller called Notre Paradis which I picked only because there was no other choice of movies at this time. Feeling boosted with chocolate, I took my far end weirdly angled seat and waited for my expectations to be exploded (as promised by the organisers). During the screening I realised two things:

1) There’s not enough queer films being produced these days because BFI is literally taking any submissions to the festival

2) Sometimes 1 hour and 40 minutes seems longer than a lifetime, and this does not only apply to Twilight

Our Paradise is a pointlessly pornographic, chaotically told directorial experiment that goes wrong before it even starts. If some films have no purpose to exists, Our Paradise is the leader of them all. 

Our Paradise is a story of two rent boys in Paris, who meet one night and fell in love with each other straight away. Unfortunately, their lives are far from being perfect, however, the desperation to make them such is bigger than morality and soon they commit a series of brutal murders in order to achieve their material dreams. Angelo, a beautiful, young, almost godlike boy acts a sort of bait while Vassilli, a thirty year old man struggling with the inevitable process of ageing holds the knife. We see them prostituting themselves and killing their customers until one night they get spotted by one of Vassilli’s failed victims. They decide to escape Paris and move to Batille, where they meet Vassilli’s friend and her ten year old son. When their lives seems to get stable and safe, in almost Greek tragedy way they learn that once the crime is committed, there’s no escape from its consequences.

Although I somehow managed to summarise the plot (and trust me, I left out a huge bit of it for your own sake), Our Paradise is far from being a logically constructed movie. I believe that the director was inspired by Pedro Almodovar and his new films where crime and passion are brought together to form almost melodramatic and tragic image. Although Almodovar is the master of making the soapiest stories extremely artful and beautiful, Goel Morel fails greatly when attempting the same. Our Paradise is chaotic, unnecessary and almost irritating. The story is unpredictable, but not because it is surprising, but rather because it seems to lose track every ten minutes. For most of the time Our Paradise doesn’t lead anywhere and appears to be a boring compilation of explicit sex scenes followed by brutal murders. The finale is not satisfying and overall the movie strikes us with awful blandness. Counting the amount of blood spilt, Our Paradise should at least taste of something.

fortunately for me, this tasteless dish was followed by a real nostalgia trip…

HIT SO HARD

 My brain was saved from rotting by the documentary about Hole’s drummer, Patty Schemel. Patty Schemel was not only one of the first great female drummers, but also one of the first openly gay one. Hit So Hard tells a story of the generation and for the generation it is a real treat.

Although when I was a teenager, Kurt Cobain was already dead, the grunge music was still influential for my growing up. I loved Nirvana more than Hole, but Courtney Love was no stranger to me. I am not going to educate you on the 90s and its alternative music, because this is something that has to be experienced (I feel like I sound really badass right now), however, I highly recommend taking look at it in order to really appreciate Hit So Hard. And when you do, I promise you that there is a lot to love. 

If this picture gives you goosebumps, Hit So Hard is the film for you

Although Hit So Hard looks a little amateurish, the camera is not the best and thus the quality of picture is a little rough, it is a truly engaging documentary. Patty Schemel is just a pretext used in order to tell a story of the generation who simply didn’t give a fuck and wanted others to do the same. Although the early 90s were still far from being called a tolerant and liberal times, somehow the movement was born that accepted everything and everyone, that screamed equality and believed in political and moral incorrectness. Courney Love and Kurt Cobain were the obvious voices of the youth, but behind the stage door there was more story to discover. 

Hit So Hard raises up all the topics related to the ‘life of a rockstar’ such as drugs, touring, relationship with fans and finally, the fall of the band, however, it also manages to create an intimate portrait of an individual, Patty Shemel in this case and show her public as well as inner life. It is a touching story of acceptance, coming out and self-discovery. It is both beautiful, thought provoking and entertaining, and although it might not be universal, it is definitely a tribute to the generation that changed the world. 

The documentary is technically wonderful. Although it talks about many different topics, the transition between them is so smooth and subtle that it keeps us engaging all the way through it. The modern interviews combined with the original footage both from public appearances and concerts as well as private recordings from hotel rooms, tour buses, clubs and homes create the ultimate image of the people behind one of the greatest musical and social phenomenons of the twentieth century. And it makes you Hole fan. 

 

Another year has already started, and another Oscar ceremony is behind us and with it: plenty of…well, actually plenty of mehs and whocares’. Although from the moment this year’s nominees have been announced, we, film geeks, have been constantly moaning about the rather ambiguous choices that the Academy made, especially in regards of those left behind (Shame, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Drive…and don’t even get me started on Rampart); however, all hope lied in the Academy’s final words and if the winners were let us forget about the painful disappointment experienced until the moment they were spoken.

apart from this image- it really makes us happy

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to watch the ceremony live, so I was left alone with written update offered by IMDb and I could only imagine the lack of tension that didn’t grow when a nominee we didn’t care about won. It was supposed to be the big war between the Descendants and the Artist, and instead it turned out to be a charity-like attempt to make everyone happy. So, here they are, my top Oscars’ disappointments:

12. No Live Streaming Online for Free

I believe it should be a human right to be able to watch Oscars for free every year, even when one is outside the USA. I’m in Europe and with no freeview, I was pretty screwed.

11. The Pretentious Categories’ Names

How pretentious is it to rename all the understandable sounding category names into something so unnecessarily complex that one can’t be bothered to even check what each of them actually means. Could anyone tell me why is it Achievement in Directing rather than Best Director category and why is it Best Achievement in Music Written for MotionPictures, Original Score instead of the People vs John Williams? I believe it’s pointlessly pretentious and just makes the ceremony longer by making the hosts read more words.

10. THIS Actually Happened


And the oscar goes to….

“The truth is the greatest tragedy of all”…well, it would definitely be if it won this year

9. Midnight in Paris Gets the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published…you mean BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, right?

I used to be a devoted Woody Allen fan, so if this happened ten years ago, I would actually be happy. Nowadays, I tend to miss new films of his when they get released, but I watched Midnight in Paris and I enjoyed it…quite. It is a wonderful, nostalgic journey to the 20s Paris, but to be honest, there’s not really that much into it. Owen Wilson vedi vidi vici and that’s about it. So to me Midnight in Paris was an interesting concept, but with no actual story. So how come a film without a plot gets the award for the best script?

it’s because it’s Woody Allen

8. Oscar buzz

I think the fact that oscars can be now only watched by the users of private television is mainly to blame here, but to be honest, I still think that in comparison to the previous years, this year’s ceremony has lacked its typical buzz. Nobody was really betting, arguing or waiting impatiently for them. Is it maybe because nobody cared about most of the nominated films anyway? Or maybe because the Academy is becoming more and more commercial and marketable. Either way- the lack of usual atmosphere has definitely made this year’s Oscars less of the Oscars.

7. The Muppets

The Muppets, according to Rotten Tomatoes, is now one of the critics’ big favourite getting amazing reviews and making everyone who watches it extremely happy. I haven’t seen it yet, but like everyone who still hasn’t, I can’t wait to go and write a great review myself. It is clearly a great movie. And yet somehow the only category it appears in is the Best Song (in which it wins, but to be honest, the only competition was Rio- and I mean literally the ONLY- this category had only two nominees this year). If somehow Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close managed to get a nomination for the Best Picture, the film which gets much better reviews should have the same chances? Oh, wait…I forgot the choices of nominees were completely random…

6. Incredibly Loud & Extremely Close

One of the most controversial surprises at this year’s Academy. What? When? Why? Just Why? It has 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.6 on IMDb and literally no reason to be nominated. And yet, here it was- came with nothing and left with nothing but at least it filled the hole which could have been filled with Drive, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or Rampart.

5. Best Animated Feature of the Year

It seems like the category is occupied by the films that are there…just because they are animated. We have one sequel, one pretentious  foreign film and one runt of a movie that already has three sequels and uncountable number of extras and one high movie. Although I have never been a die hard fan of the genre, I remembered it offered much more than left overs. Rango was literally the only film that had any chances winning the award without making the Academy lose all the respect and so it did. And since we are already on the topic of predictability and lack of competition…

4. The Academy is trying to make everyone happy

And as a result of that, instead of having a film that gets all the major awards proving at the same time that it clearly deserves to be called the best picture of the year, everyone gets an award. About ten years ago the Academy started being really obvious about the fact that most of their choices come from political correctness and this year was the evidence that this attitude has gone even worse. When both Anonymous and Transformers stand alongside the Descendants and the Artist, you know that something is not completely right. Oscars are becoming less about giving the awards for those who have in some way changed the cinema, and more about giving more money to the ones who already are making enough. Consequently, the ceremony ceases to excite us offering nothing more but random and pretty bland show. Let me show you what I mean…

3. Academy Awards then vs Academy Awards Now

There is a game you can play. Pick a year, it can be anything in the last 84 years. Now, find the list of all the winners and nominees from this year. Pick a category and find the films nominated as well as the winner of it. Have you seen it? Is it better than this year’s winner? That’s what I thought…

2. Ryan Gosling, Tilda Swinton and Micheal Fassbender

and also Carrey Mulligan, Pedro Almodovar, Woody Harrelson, Oren Moverman, David Fincher, Elizabeth Olsen, Shailene Woodley, Ezra Miller, Win Wenders…anyone can name at least ten other ones…

1. The Artist

Don’t get me wrong- I am the happiest reviewer ever being able to say that the film I wanted to win, won and congratulations to the Artist- I truly believe that it deserved the award it got. Even though I’d rather George Clooney got the award for the Best Actor, I am still happy that the Academy didn’t “surprise” us rewarding War Horse or Incredibly Close & Extremely Loud instead. However, no matter how good it feels that the Artist won the best picture, it is still disappointing that the film that is really just a great entertainment and has more of an aesthetic value than the actual message behind it, has literally no competition. The Artist is a good movie, but it should not be the best movie Oscars have to offer. I would be happier if it beat the competition, but instead, there was nothing to beat in the first place. So thank you, the Academy, for this paradoxical accent. My favourite wins, and I’m not even satisfied.