Monday, January 14, 2013

Six degrees of five films

Having a debilitating cold since Friday, I missed seeing Life of Pi with friends on Saturday (I may need to set a date with myself), but nevertheless, it was a good weekend of movies for me. I saw Precious, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Help, Midnight in Paris, and Silver Linings Playbook.

I'm presently reading To Kill a Mockingbird—a book which I'm finding to be one of the best ones I've ever read—so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it figured in Wallflower, as the first book assignment in freshman English class; and in The Help, as one of books owned by a white journalist who writes about the plight of Black American maids in the ‘60s. (This says much about Mockingbird, whose values transcend generation, race, and occupation.)

Wallflower is a beautiful movie but I feel like I'm too old for its general theme (however I hated admitting that :-P). Parang sad na if I'd still wallow about missed opportunities (unless it's an opportunity to make money), and wax poetic about a hand brushing on my leg, or feeling the wind on my face as the song plays on the radio. (Lakas maka-Taylor Swift.) However, it has a darker, thought-provoking theme that explores an introvert's struggle with love and abuse, which I won't expound on as it is a spoiler. (8/10)

The Help is unthinkable in its depiction of racial discrimination in the US as recently as the '60s, but what's more horrifying is that it is anchored on true events. I like that it is not sloshed in sentimentality and melodrama, as one would expect in an Oscar contender (2011); instead, we see a tempered yet assured climax, with a welcome comedic approach that would have otherwise made this a gut-wrenching film.  (9/10)

Gut wrenching is Precious, which details the continuing challenges of Black Americans, though it's not so much about the discrimination they experience from society but the scourge of self-destruction and poverty they bring upon themselves. (That's what the film presented; I'm aware that these challenges are not exclusive to one's color.) I had a stream of tears by the time Monique finished her monologue toward the end. It is another unthinkable depiction of life, and again, horrifying in its reality. (8/10)

On a lighter note, Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen is a comedy that weighs in on the beauty of nostalgia. A charming screenwriter, played by Owen Wilson, travels to the French city and finds himself in the company of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Luis Buñuel, and other great artists. (I will never forget Buñuel for Un Chien Andalou, which is a staple in film class. Hence, it was with sadness that after watching Midnight, I learned on Twitter that my one and only film teacher, Ellen Paglinauan, passed away that day.) Literature, film, and art students would have a heyday getting the many private jokes and nuisances abound in this movie.  (8/10)

Hemingway also appears in Silver Linings Playbook, courtesy of his novel A Farewell to Arms, the book that drives a hot OCD patient (Bradley Cooper) raging mad at 3 in the morning. Two young adults with mental illnesses make a fascinating study on dating without the flirtation, the white lies, peacock-parading vanity, and false appearances. It's cute but with the number of nominations it received from award-giving bodies this year, I expected way much more. (7/10)

7 * :

gary said...

midnight in paris is terrific

Jason D. said...

It is! Made me want to read up on the classics, too.

KatrinaAtienza said...

Hindi ko kinaya ang Precious, and that was watching the sanitized Star Movies version pa. I LOOOOOVED Midnight in Paris!

Alex said...

The movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird is also fantastic.

The five movies you watched are all great. :) All well-acted, particularly Violet Davis in The Help and Monique and Gabourey in Precious. I felt though that The Help was pandering to emotions.

Jason D. said...

Ang bigat nya sobra :-( I hope Monique's monologue wasn't heavily censored on cable.

Jason D. said...

Hope to find a copy of the film version :-)

KatrinaAtienza said...

Not sure if it was censored -- di ko na kaya panuorin original version -- but I remember it was super powerful and moving. She was such an awful character but the way she did the monologue I began to understand her!

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