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Author Archives: Cathy Lopez

About Cathy Lopez

My thoughts turned lucid

Don Michael Corleone’s Fall

Succeeding a movie as great as the first Godfather, this movie had a lot to live up to. There are few times when the sequel is just as brilliant as the first. The Godfather part II still held the core characters of the first but with a totally different storyline. Still one of the best films ever shown in class, this movie has the elements of great acting, interesting story, and all the violence I loved so much in the first.

Discovering Don Vito’s Corleone past unfolded so many secrets and explained a lot about how he gained his power. With the flashback scenes, I felt like the film catching up to itself. The past was like racing up to the present until they meet halfway between a distant then and a troubled now. The beginning of the three brothers held such tenderness and love; one could almost forget that this is Vito Corleone, underground chief and intimidating mob boss.

Juxtaposing his father’s gain of power, this film chronicles Michael’s fall. Although he is in a seat of great influence, he still needs to eliminate his enemies. The clear indication that Michael has truly fallen from the once idealistic pedestal he used to perch himself one, is the murder of his brother Fredo. In one flashback scene, we know that Fredo had pneumonia; probably why his frame seems weak and skinny. That touch of humanity is evident on Vito’s face and we see that even gods have souls and hearts. We see how important family is to this man. Killing his own brother was just the worst thing Michael could have done. Unforgiving, ruthless, and manipulative; all these traits are embodied in Michael and what makes him even more menacing is that he is rational and calculating. Every action is well thought of and his dwindling regard for human life arises in this second movie.

What I really enjoyed about this movie is that it does not offer any consolation for the first movie. If not, it makes it even worse. At least in the first film, Vito knew how to protect his family, he would get hurt at the death of his child and he would actually shed tears. Michael, however, has been submerged into the evils of the underground crime organization that he has been desensitized towards the fragility and importance of life. The one time where he shows any emotion towards loss of a life is when he discovers that his wife had their baby aborted. His reaction was of anger and resorted to violence. Despite their several, uncanny resemblances, Michael and Vito are two very different people.

The film’s primary goal was to display how these two differ. With a scarred childhood and thoughts of revenge, Vito lived his life to support the family he has created. Michael lives his to protect interests but also to exact revenge. To minimize threats and eliminate traitors, Michael acts like a wronged Jesus, killing all the Judas that dared to cross him.

Both movies had slight religious undertones which may have only been noticed by myself. Maybe the film did not intend to be that way but once I saw it, I could not let it go. Michael’s plans raining down on his enemies like the rapture, fear strikes the audience because we see an idealistic crumble to the evils and maybe we are capable of such things.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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You say you want a revolution

Films about a revolution fuelled by ideals are the kind that will spark a sense of patriotism in the hearts of a lot of film viewers. These are the sort of movies that inspire others to be just as committed to a cause to the point of rebellion against an oppressing norm. The backbone of this story relies on the concept that only through destruction of the self can people rebuild a better self for society.

The alternate reality of V for Vendetta’s universe is too controlled with not much room for liberal ideas or artistic freedom. The suppression of the government struck fear and docility into the people. The film tries to counter that scary thought by saying that the people should not be afraid of their government; it should be the government that is afraid of its people. It would be horrible to exist in a world that would arrest and kill anyone who takes a stab at the government. Enforced curfews should only be done in times of great crisis and not to muffle the voices of the people at night. To silence their cries would only allow them to boil over until the world becomes one molten mess of discontent and death of its souls.

Other films that share their views on the need for self-destruction would be Fight Club and Batman: the Dark Knight. Sometime anarchy is essential in toppling a ruling class which does not do their people any good but only furthers their personal gain and political agenda.

The story is built on the concept of the immortality of ideas. How a man can die but the ideas never will. There are such films that are like this. They tell a story so well, they build sets so beautifully, and they make a score so perfectly fitting that the audience will create a new reality within the film context. These films are the timeless ones, the classics such as Gone with the Wind and Casablanca.

In relation, this film can be a metaphor for the revolution that cinema viewing that it stirs within the audience. A film would present their ideals, convince the film viewers that, within the context, their ideals are right and just, and that their ideas can change the world. The film mirrors into itself and makes watching it a meta experience.

The scene where V took Evey as prisoner could be a symbol for how films take people as prisoners and inject into them a false sense of reality and changes their point of view in life. She finds a letter addressed to whoever is reading it. The letter is about the suffering and pain the writer had to go through because she was different and going against the moral standards of society. When people watch films, their sufffering will stem either from their misunderstanding of their film or if the film is not executed well enough to engage the audience.

Beyond their message of change through anarchy, the film strives to always bring rationality to the table. Like human nature, the two divides of the id and ego battle each other to produce a functional human being acceptable enough to present to a society that will chew it up and spit it out like any other anonymous statistic.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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A show of David Fincher’s Genius

Directed by one of my favourites, this film weaves an intricate mystery thriller that unfolds in such a methodical way that it seems almost like clockwork. the editing is very clean. It is more than a mystery or gory film, it’s an intellectual movie that delves into the psychological make-up of serial killings and the people involved in them.

The obsession with solving the mystery takes over one of the main characters, Robert Graysmith, and he pursues the case like a dog with a scent. This character is played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is a cartoonist in the movie. Mystery thrillers always need a character like this who does not give up and is in relentless pursuit of who committed the crimes. This is how they get absorbed in the movie by representing all their desires for truth and bringers of justice into an unassuming do-gooder.

David Fincher has such clean editing and perfect shots for this film. One particular scene with the shooting of Mageau and Ferrin in the beginning was shot from above. It was almost like God watching the events unfolding. A sense of helplessness is derived as the audience is taken farther away from the crime and can do nothing but watch them suffer. the other scene that featured the two victims shot in slow motion and up close also gave that particular a personal touch. A different kind of helplessness takes over the viewers. As if there is no escape from the manic killer.

The film has several dichotomies of a single emotion. There are always glimpses of hope that diminished by a single line. When the three police officers interviewed Arthur Leigh Allan, there were so many evidences stacked up against him. You can assume that he was the killer and that the mystery would be solved. But one line that put that spark of hope out was when their captain announced that his handwriting did not match the letters’. The build up towards this moment is so great that those few lines of dialogue seem anti-climactic. Where the film reaches its peak, there is always something that drags it back down.

Another kind of frustration experienced here is how Graysmith’s wife leaves him and takes the kids away. We see how this need to solve it possessed him and consequently, made him neglect his family. Questions of “is it worth it?” constantly come up especially at the very end where we find out that the mystery is still unsolved until now. It was the frustrating fact that no proper justice was served and no one paid the price.

Known for his downbeat endings, David Fincher ends the film with a written narration of what happened after. Saying that the police officers dies, the case is still open, and that none of the suspects were convicted for Zodiac’s crimes just makes you feel like everyone’s work on it had been in vain. The film does not exist to please the audience with feel-good endings but it stimulates them into thinking that in real life, villains can have their cake and eat it too.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Gritty Glam Rock

A film about glam rock, sex, and the perils of fame would prepare the audience for a wild, colourful ride that would bring them to a magical world of these strange characters. In terms of dialogue, this film does not disappoint. Easily my most favourite element, the script is grandiose due to the choice of words. The line, “The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history” is not something that falls off the tip of the tongue. Yet this was uttered at a most spontaneous moment; a tender moment, a private moment.

Curt Wild and Brian Slade are two rock stars in love with their music, their audience and each other. Facing the judgment of society and restrictions of some call of morality, they surge on with what they want to do. I know that the film tried to follow Iggy Pop’s image with Curt Wild, I can’t help but only see the striking image of Kurt Cobain with his scruffy jeans, long blonde hair, and constant smoking. I only found out about Iggy Pop after researching on the film. As I was watching the movie, I was picturing Kurt Cobain and David Bowie. Pairing these two rock icons representing two different facets of the music revolution would have been very interesting. I viewed it as a marriage of grunge and glam, clashing with each other and forming this vulnerable yet strong unit of pain, love, and self-expression. I was slightly disappointed to discover that it was Iggy Pop’s image after all and not the self-destructive, angsty, and suicidal Cobain.

The fantasy part that they injected into the movie was distracting for me since I wanted them to focus on the development of characters more. All of the actors were spectacular and elemental in telling a homoerotic love story. A nod towards the great Oscar Wilde, their dialogues were inspired of his works and was very well-written. the film was at its best with just a close up of two people talking. The expressions of sadness, triumph, and shame were made even more memorable as these emotions were introduced in their voyage of self-discovery.

The character of Brian Slade’s wife, Mandy, was the most pained as she watched someone she loved love someone else. This particular someone else was something she could never be so she could never aspire to fill his place. In a single line:  It’s funny how beautiful people are when they’re walking out the door could melt anyone’s heart to acid. We watch her suffer silently in the background as her husband basked in the many lights of his career.

The relationship between Slade and Wild was a complicated one because of its very nature. When they were in this giant orgy, the audience would feel how uncontrollable animal desires are and how liberal this world of theirs operates. Their sordid love affair was a source of inspiration to those teenagers fighting their way out of the closet at the time. There is no love as great as the love that helps others, inspires many, and breaks the foundations of which the man has built.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Why the Godfather is a “best movie”

Named as one of the best movies of all time, this film does not disappoint. The premise alone, even without its fame, would be enough to draw anyone in. The story about the internal struggle of a family working as an underground crime organization set in a post war New York City pulls in the viewers by the shroud of mystery in it. Hiding behind closed doors and veiled meetings, the Corleone family make their shady deals under their political protection.

Although it would be easy to mistake the movie to be about Don Vito Corleone, it is actually about his youngest son Michael. The chronicle of how the former war hero rose to power is filled with bloodshed and ruthless decisions. Being the most reluctant to enter into the family business, Michael is forced to do so due to his brothers’ failure.

Michael is the most rational and clear thinking of the three brothers, not including the adopted Tom Hagen. The eldest, Sonny, is much too hot-headed and prone to violent reactions. He is impulsive and does not think his actions through. This is frowned upon as seen when Vito reprimands him for telling a person outside the family what he thinks. After finding out that his brother-in-law was physically abusing his sister, Sonny flies off in understandable rage. That was my favourite part when Sonny starts beating up Carlo with energy fuelled by love for the family and anger for Carlo’s audacity to hit his pregnant wife. These uncontrollable characteristics though are a flaw when it comes to succeeding his father’s position as the godfather.

Fredo, the second son, is not smart or adept enough to be head this crime family. His reaction to when his father was shot was pathetic as he just sat down and cried. His attempt to fire his gun failed when he merely fumbled and dropped it. He was the most unfit for the Vito’s position since he is seen as the weakest among all of them.

Michael however detaches himself from people which proves to be his biggest weakness and greatest strength. How he refused to reciprocate Kay’s “I love you,” is a clear sign that he knows emotions can be used against a person. But it comes as a liability when it comes to keeping the family together. He had his brother-in-law killed because he proved to be a threat and betrayer to the family. Despite knowing that he would make his sister a widow and his godson half an orphan, Michael knew that it had to be done. He takes in his sister’s misery without an ounce of guilt on his face.

Michael’s ability to persuade is reminiscent of Don Vito’s. He can assure a person of his harmless, threaten with a straight face, and get what he wants in the end. In the case of Carlo, he managed to calm him down by lying so well. In order to marry the girl in Sicily, he did not use violence yet when he spoke to the girl’s father, he chose his word well. He said that he meant no harm then divulging information to make him vulnerable put the father in a position of domination. Then by saying that he was the best thing for her and threatening slightly but clearly, Michael shows that he gets what he wants. He offers him a way out of the mess by introducing his plan to meet his daughter. Michael has immense and convincing powers of persuasion that he would be the best choice for being the godfather despite being the youngest.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Webs of Memories

Our memories serve as our windows to the past. At times we reflect on them, wondering and evaluating what things could have been done differently or if things should have been done at all. At times, we distort them because we could hardly understand the things happening at the time or in some situations the mind itself cannot process the information that is presented to them. In cases of schizophrenics, the victim of schizophrenia deludes themselves into creating new worlds.

The film Spider revolves around the painful and confusing childhood of a schizophrenic man whose actions are precise and well thought out despite the lack of rationality and logic behind his conclusions. The film’s strongest weapon in its arsenal is the way they packaged the film into a quiet story that explodes at certain, unexpected moments.

To describe the film in terms of colour, shades of grey dominate the palette. The dreary European setting gives it a creepy atmosphere. The landscape shots emphasize the loneliness and solitude that Dennis Cleg, the schizophrenic, felt. The one scene that Dennis is standing outside a red door then a woman comes out with her baby and a stroller. Dennis just stares at them unconscious of his looming presence that obviously makes the woman uncomfortable. She takes one look at him and hurries off almost as if she is running away from him. It is hard to deny that Dennis Cleg has an unimposing yet intimidating demeanour. Although he tries to stay out of people’s way and basically fade into the background, people around him cannot help but feel uneasy because there is a sense of instability with him.

It is classified as a psychological thriller because of the uncertainties that run across the movie which is never resolved even at the very end. The film thrills its viewers with the promise of possibility. The one sequence that kept me on the edge was when the other patient broke a lot of glass. Dennis hid a piece of sharp glass within his clothes. It was quite long and very dangerous to keep holding on to. The audience just feels that an unstable man with a mental disease could hurt himself and others. The suspense was kept intact despite the lack of a swelling score and scary music. When Dennis handed over the piece of glass, the viewers must have breathed a sigh of relief as the threat of danger is over.

The film sucks us into the mind of Dennis as we watch his memories unfold in the movie. There are times when the happenings seem too farfetched and exaggerated that we will feel like this might never have happened. When Dennis’s father and “mistress” were burying the mother, their actions were much too villain-like. Probably influenced by the cartoons and images of his childhood, Dennis could have twisted his thoughts and morphed these two adults into evildoers that would murder a woman then laugh and drink by her make shift grave.

A need for a certain kind of critical thinking would allow the audience to appreciate the storyline more. Watching it would evoke our sympathy and fear for Cleg but in the end it is the provoking idea of how it relates to us and how we translate other people’s actions that we should fear the most.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Punch Drunk Loneliness

Adam Sandler stars in this dark romantic comedy that somehow goes beyond its genre with some fight scenes and a psychological element. He plays Barry Egan, a small business owner trying to do his job despite the amount of bothering he gets from his seven sisters. It has the makings of a quirky and funny movie that would make the audience feel good at the end. Instead what the film delivers is a rather disturbing depiction of the dreariness of everyday life and how we do things to chase what we want regardless of the possibility of failure.

The lighting in the film is dim and the sets were under lit probably an indication of the darkness that surrounds Adam Sandler’s character. Overwhelmed by his sisters’ inconsideration for him, Barry Egan retreats to his solitary living. Human nature rejects this kind of isolation and so no one can judge for calling a phone sex line. This need for companionship is necessary to share life moments and make them more meaningful. There are many times when people feel this way and they try their best to come out of the rut that they found themselves in.

A string of troubles and mishaps follow him around after the phone sex line operator calls him up to ask him for his money. We can see that Barry Egan is passive aggressive as his rage and frustration are expressed in the most inopportune times. They come out in rapid and violent bursts that contradict his usual calm and patient self. His impulsiveness comes out when he chases the girl he loves. The basic need for love drives him to fly out and meet her in Hawaii. This film is one about human nature and the needs of sentient beings. There are many lonely people in the world out there and they are all in need to watch this movie about finding the right one who will accept every facet of the person.

In some scenes, leaks of blue light could be seen line across the scene. This interesting use of cinematography added touches of emotion into the story. These light leaks can be seen at the most pivotal moments of Barry’s life. Somehow, it felt as if his emotions were boiling over and spilling into the shot. The immensity of what he felt must have been that overpowering that there was a need for it to be tangible.

Some transitions from one setting to the next had some muffled talking over an array of mixed colours. Dazed, a film viewer could be confused at this seemingly arbitrary part. I found it quite clever the way they did this because it seems as if the viewer is as lost as Egan’s character. There was a constant desire to find a way out of the uncertainties but while you’re there might as well add colour to it despite the chaos it adds.

The films charms the viewers with the grittiness and real-ness it presents. There are no fantastic moments that would make you wish for a Prince Charming because Egan’s life is no fairy tale. He takes life as it comes and holds on to the rare love that he’s found.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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