Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NY cream, Southern dreams...

Wong Kar Wai's new film, My Blueberry Nights, deserves much more credit than most critics seem to give. I agree the shots through the glass were a little excessive, and the narrative is not the most interesting and complex plot, but if you like his previous work, this film is definitely worth a peek.

It follows Norah Jones, an interesting choice, as her character, Elizabeth, travels the states to get over a man. In very Wong Kar Wai fashion, the narrative is broken into multiple smaller narratives, New York/Nashville/Vegas. There was not enough of the frame-narrative in New York if you ask me, but perhaps its my hopelessly romantic side wanting Jude Law to kiss the "cream" off Norah Jones' face over a countertop just one more time.

Yes, "cream," as it is narratively ice cream, but bodily cream is a valid alternative. Perhaps the semen reference is going too far, but the repeated extreme close up of the melted ice cream flowing over blueberry pie juxtaposed with their sexual tension begs for such an interpretation.

But alas, the pie doesn't continue much visually throughout the other narratives. Elizabeth as waitress and evolving-woman are what do remain constant, although her growth is not very noticeable until she bluntly discusses it at the end of the film. Her innocence, rather, still punctures all of her scenes, and hinders her "growth through experience" that seems to be the point of her story.

If you're anything like me though, the narrative is not necessarily the main reason you go to a Wong Kar Wai film. The first appeal, rather, is the visual techniques and manipulation of time and space. And this is abundant, dare I say overly so... if there is such a thing in one of his films.
For me the biggest adjustment though, and perhaps hurdle, to viewing the film was the absence of subtitles. My experience with his films has always included the translation through subtitles and the separation from the narrative inherently attached to the reading of dialogue. His other films are more stimulating thematically, narratively, and visually, but I wonder if it is this ability to immerse oneself in the narrative more easily than his other work, that drove me to see faults much more quickly or make them appear worse than they otherwise would have. Also, of his work, this is the first I have seen which focuses on women. Combined with the foreign environment of the United States, the film seems to be more a first draft of what he is capable.

I commend him for testing the waters of English-language cinema, female protagonists, and U.S. environments, and while I think the helpless romantic and lovelorn male characters work much better for him , along with the globalization undercurrent depicted through the environment of Hong Kong and his usage of numerous languages, My Blueberry Nights is a decent attempt to go beyond this repertoire, and maybe his next try will be more appealing to the non-die hard Kar Wai fans.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Goudal's Hallucinations, Discuss!

Welcome to my debut! Or as they pronounce it on Degrassi, my day-boo!

The French film theorist Jean Goudal once referenced images in cinema to conscious hallucinations. I couldn't help but gravitate toward this phrase, as I do many quotations and thoughts within writing. This time, I must say, it was refreshing to hear someone describe cinema in a context other than the picture versus window scenario, as useful as that may be. This description hints at both the frame and the window, both fiction and reality, both the conscious and subconscious, which says much more than a simple dichotomy could ever imagine.

With this phrase as my jumping off point, I hope to investigate films and various media with a multifaceted perspective. Through my interests in identity politics and cultural studies along with film theory, history, and criticism, this blog aims to be more than simple movie reviews, but rather an analysis of the art form and its cultural and ideological significances. Enjoy!

"Neither a pea, nor a nut":
My Blueberry Nights
Killer of Sheep
Wristcutters: A Love Story