filmgeekwatching

A great WordPress.com site

Archive for the category “tribure”

A lament on Peter O’Toole

Image

That picture of him as Macbeth was the first thing I saw on my Facebook. My sister wrote this as the caption “Oh dear sis hope it doesn’t ruin your hobbit experience”

She kinda knew that today I would be watching The Hobbit:Desolation of Smaug and she is trying not to make me upset that my acting hero-Peter O’Toole passed on.

Of course I was in denial when I read the caption RIP Peter O’Toole. I was like “No it cannot be”. My entire morning I was really upset and trying to come into terms with Peter’s death. I even looked at the sky and cannot help but to think how fun Peter is rocking in heaven with all of his hell raisers

The reason why I am writing this post and perhaps this blog is because of that man’s acting. You may know the story on how Lawrence of Arabia have changed my life. Yes that haunting stare in the coda. This year I have a chance to share my love of Lawrence of Arabia to all or experience that magic I have at 19.

I did a directing presentation of “No Prisoners”,that scene that shocked me to the power of cinema.

There is a lot of discussion despite many know how much I love Lawrence of Arabia so much. I was so proud of my presentation.

I get to try to do a livestream of that film with my newly purchased DVD of Lawrence of Arabia,I see things that I did not notice about that film,even the power Peter O’Toole have that is rare in today’s screen.

Most of all,I get to see clips of the restoration of Lawrence of Arabia,during the week-long programm. I swear that I nearly wept in seeing how gorgeous it was. I was moved on its sheer beauty and seeing O’Toole’s piercing blue eyes.

On the other hand I managed to catch his filmography beyond Lawrence of Arabia. Ratatouille, Anton Ego’s moving speech of critics and criticism,his scheming role as The King in Stardust, his haunting role as Mr Johnson in The Last Emperor on the big screen,god I was in tears that I saw my acting hero is in this film. His tenderness in “Venus” as an aging actor was wonderful and lastly Casanova,as the older self-he delivered it with finesse. I mean whatever role he have big or small-he delivered it with such beauty.

The reason why I lament is that moment when I heard he retired,a little part of me just died. I got upset that he is no longer pursuing acting. I think there is no actor that could fill the screen such as his.  I wanted him to do more,maybe work with Wes Anderson-my current favorite film director. I imagine him bringing his wry pre scene into Anderson’s childlike roles. I wish he could do Tom Bombardali in Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings,he would bring magic into the screen. There are few stars that can deliver it in O’Toole’s standards. However you cannot beat the hellraiser.

Most of all ,the real reason I lament on his death is in my bucket list,I wish I could meet that legend in the flesh itself. I would give that man a big hug and just thank him for changing my life. If it wasn’t for him,look I will not be blogging about films I loved. I would just wander my head aimlessly in my film school. I would not build my love of old films and film preservation. I would not want to write about films. I would be just an anime otaku. Peter O’Toole is the reason for the love of cinema on that evening with parents on the television watching Lawrence of Arabia. Sadly my dream of meeting him would forever be unfulfilled.

I think it would be pretty difficult that I would watch a film with him,knowing that a legend would never be easily found. Maybe it would ease if my country would show Lawrence of Arabia in the big-screen. However I do feel that I am indebted to him for my love of cinema.

My condolences to his family members and friends especially Omar Sharif who is perhaps weeping over the loss of a great friend. So Rest in Peace,my king,my acting hero and lastly my inspiration. Without you I would not be that person again.

Advertisements

Thinking back on my Wes Anderson paper

Well hello guys again,yes I am still alive and I would try my best to keep it updated as possible. However I cannot gurantee as my third year is getting busy with projects and of course that dreaded dissertation paper that every student have to do. Now speaking about dissertation paper,O.K you have 8,000 words to write with your specialism. Well for the majority of my cohort,they dreaded it like the plague and meanwhile I was going “O.K no biggie” as I have ideas on writing on my topic on Production Design (It was the neglected child of the film theorists gang-you better change something O.K?)

Now here comes my story, being in my nerdy phase of watching The Hobbit and LOTR. I thought that it would be fricking awesome to do a dissentation on it. However my fairy-tales and mythology nerd have somewhat took away my topic. Luckily I do have some backup topics on what I want to write,I am also itching to attempt to do Wes Anderson’s mise-en-scene for my writing (I mean it was a Production Designer’s dream). My lecturer was like yup,your idea is more solid. So it sealed me the deal of Wes Anderson as my dissertation. Of course I was elated with joy that I get to watch Wes Anderson’s filmography again and writing about that guy is pretty sweet.

For the past few weeks I have been kinda of talking non-stop but Wes Anderson films to everyone who breathes even to my mum (Of course one of my classmates make me have a fangirl freakout when he mentioned that he finished Grand Budpast Hotel). I watched his films (with commentary thanks to criterioncommentaries when I was freaking out that my TDL (The Darjeeling Limited bluray cannot play in my DVD). Whenever I have a chance to get a seat at my local MRT (It was kinda like Singapore’s version of the tube or Subway) I scribbled notes on the settings and costumes,and process what it means. Every night I milked out Mother Google in finding articles about Wes Anderson (which was very little) and read it to get understanding. I changed my Itunes music to my playlist of Wes Anderson’s soundtracks and film commentaries (God bless Criterion collection for these beauties). I thought of people that need to work with him. Whenever I listen a song from the soundtrack of his,it flash me back the moment where it was held.

There is one moment I became Sherlock in his mind-palace  during Production Design class (with the punch of milk tea in the morning). I cannot stop but to think about Wes Anderson’s sets

I cannot fathom my fascination about him,his eye of detail is just killer-OMG the plate become significant and even the scruff thanks to his hands. I sometimes feel pretty inferior to Wes Anderson’s gorgeous production designs. I became restless. I just feel amazed and in awe of my new idol. I became sucked into his worlds of irony and brokeness.

However the reading of the key texts on aueter theory was pretty much a bitch. Usually I can understand a text easily and somehow it absorbed in my brain. I cannot wrangle what Francois Truffaut and Andre Bazin is trying to say,even the late Andrew Sarris have left me pretty baffled. The film gods are probably laughing at me on my lack of understanding.

Fast forward to this week,I have just received feedback from my lecturer in regards to my proposal. It wasn’t great as I think. I suddenly have my “The Graduate” moment when Benjamin is pretty shocked on Mrs Robinson’s seduction

I have to submit that proposal this week on Monday,with projects on..It’s gonna be  a bitch….. I have that writer’s block. Today I attempted to reconstruct my proposal to be clear as I humanly can (I am pretty much everywhere like Sherlock). I questioned why the hell do I want to write about that director that I slowly grew respect on. I could have done David Lean,my ultimate film god or something simpler but why Wes Anderson?

There I have that revelation after attending someone’s funeral after my feedback session. While hearing all of the eulogies and trying to be the rock of my twin sister,weeping eyes of for a person we barely knew. I immediately of  that scene of the first film I watched in conjunction of my paper-The Darjeeling Limited . That scene where the Whitman brothers witness a funeral of the boy Peter (Adrien Brody) is unable to save. It was set in Wes’ slow-mo shot with the song “Strangers” by The Kinks. Everyone was silent,all united by grief like his family members and friends dear to that person. I suddenly seen a vignette of my sister as Peter,that scene in the toilet where he was moved by Jack’s story as she cried for that stranger she is unaware of. Slowly it unveiled to me that I relate to The Darjeeling Limited (and slowly falling in love with this film)-I was like Francis (Owen Wilson)-I can be bossy and ambitious,my eldest sister was like Peter and my twin was like Jack (Jason Schwartzman),she kept most to herself and only tell me. I fought with my siblings like this. On that night after the funeral service,I can’t sleep so I decided to journal that night and I recalled moments when I see  myself as these characters he created-Max Fischer(Jason Schwartzman) from Rushmore

I m not too good in film school technically. I am pretty ambitious like him. I loved his saying “Do something you like and do for the rest of your life” gave me that comfort especially receiving my results.

The Royal Tenenbeums which I watched a few days ago is like my family where sometimes it gets pretty dysfunctional but we loved each other in the end.

His characters are just like me,struggling the problems of the adult world in their childlike way. All have vignettes of me in so many ways. That revelation struck me on that night. Perhaps why I wanted to write that paper so badly that I make everyone pretty annoyed about me loving Wes Anderson. It is because Wes Anderson touched me on that personal level. If David Lean woke me up on the beauty of cinema with his epic of Lawrence of Arabia. Perhaps Wes Anderson touched the heart in saying how can cinema impacted me personally. His wry characters navigating a broken world which is otherworldly grounded in reality. Some people find it indulgent,others loathed of his boringness. Whatever. If it touched the right people at the right mindset,then that is the beauty of cinema. Maybe it give me that clinging hope and strength to tread through my semester of writing nothing but him. So Wes…whenever you are busy preparing for the release of Budpast (BTW excited like hell)…thank you very much…..I said that I am very proud that my dissertation would be about your fantastic works which one day may touch people as much as me.

An appreciation to La Jetee

This morning I woke up,with my Facebook app in my IPhone,it told about another legend have passed on. It was still recovering from Aurora shooting incident that happened a week ago. My heart sank because I watched one of his films during my film history class. It was La Jette. Today I will talk about my love for that film-La Jette

Chris Marker was a slightly lesser known director of The French New Wave,while Godard and Truffaut are all out with their homages to American Cinema and write essays over their love for cinema in Cahiers Et Cinema. Marker is on the other group called “The Left Bank” where they are a little more experimental in their filmmaking and have a deep love for literature. Notable examples from that group are “Hiroshima Mon Amor” and “Last year at Marienbad.” This film is perhaps the most notable for The Left Bank group.

La Jetee is about a post-nuclear world,where people are randomly chose to time-travel in their memories. A prisoner is struggling with a vague memory which could saved the world. O.K it sounds like something out of Nolan’s Inception (2010) but however I interpret it as a metaphor of isolation and  power-control. The Prisoner was struggling to forget that haunting memory as explained in the prologue,that later developed to his own struggle during his time in the “caves”. As disscused in the essay “Platonic Themes in Chris Marker’s La Jetée” Sander Lee seen this experience of the experiemnt as “namely an obsession with an internal image which is valued more highly than sensations derived from empirical experience.” At times we do feel alone when we struggled with memories that haunted us like the prisoner,who tried his best not to fall back to that memory of seeing a death of a man and that woman’s expression. It feels almost isolated and rather frightening,given that the situation La Jetee shows a power struggle between people for basic resources that they lost that memory of emotion.

What makes La Jetee very unique to FNW (French New Wave) was how they used photographs to convey a story. No it was not like those cheesy vacation slideshows of happy tourists and scenery porn.The exposure of the photos in the beginning are seen as dark to show the darkness of human hearts,but during the flashback scenes of the prisoner and the woman the tonal values are less harsh to show the happy times he encountered. It shows that you do not really need a moving footage to convey an idea. It is hard for us to grasp it as we seen film as a moving object,even a single picture tells words to the subconscious.

It was interesting that Saner Lee draw comparisons of  Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) to La Jetee,both films do talk about obsession and memory itself

It is in this choice that the man resembles Scotty Ferguson (James Stewart), the protagonist of Vertigo, the film which Marker explicitly references in the tree trunk scene. Like the man in La Jetée, Scotty is obsessed by his memory of a mysterious woman who seemed the living embodiment of all his desires and dreams.

In fact La Jetee do have a slight homage to the dream sequence of Vertigo and of course the blinking eye is a wink to the opening scene of Vertigo. I think Marker referred to that film,because he wanted to emphasize the point of how powerful the memory was. While we may tried to forget what the memory is,subconsciously an object or a face may triggered it as it was seen by this quote

 This time he is close to her, he speaks to her. She welcomes him without surprise. They are without memories, without plans. Time builds itself painlessly around them. Their only landmarks are the flavour of the moment they are living and the markings on the walls. 

Perhaps that is why this film is so poignant,it tell us that memory is unreliable. As Jonathan Romney commented about its theme of La Jetee   “La Jetée proposes an avenue that few chose to follow directly, yet the film has been hugely influential. Its visual transformation of the mundane into future dystopia was further pursued by Jean-Luc Godard in Alphaville (1965), and later by Wong Kar-wai in his multiperiod narrative 2046 (2004).”

As I am crazy over how music videos homage to films,you could see that La Jetee’s images inspires many music video directors, most notably David Bowie’s “Jump they Say” with the image of a man being strapped by wires

Interestingly,the song was inspired by a tragic incident of David’s half-brother’s suicide which linked to the prisoner’s memory of witnessing a man’s death.

MVs of Iris-“In Fiction” and  Sigue Sigue Sputnik‘s “Dancerama” also homaged themselves to this film by the photos.

However the most notable homage of La jetee  is Terry Gillian “12 Monkeys” not only homage La Jetee in its opening sequence but also homaged another film that La Jetee draw inspirations from-Vertigo (1958).

I find it difficult to summarize my appreciation for this filmThe themes of this film perhaps stood the test of time as many filmmakers talked about the unreliability of memory and that is why it was treasured. Its techniques are so radical that it surprised me how they managed to talk philosophical themes with images. As Romney opened his essay ” La Jetée: Unchained Melody”- “However you define Chris Marker’s 1963 short La Jetée—philosophical fiction, genre exercise, treatise on cinematic time—one fact is unavoidable: it resembles few other films. In fact, La Jetée does not define itself as a film” Indeed this film is something thought-provoking yet a wonder to this world.

RIP Chris Marker 1921-2012

 

 

 

 

To Sir Peter O’Toole

I apologise for not been in the updating mode,because I have a bad case of the writer’s block for my Shallow Grave post and stuff.

Those who are following my blog will know that one of my favourite films was David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia to the point I wrote an appreciation for that film. This film just simply deepen my love for it alongside Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe.

I am really upset when I heard that he will retire from acting for good from lots of upset Peter O’Toole Tumblr fans. First I was quite in a disbelief,then slowly as I ranted it out to a friend of mine (yes he is absolutely upset about that news too). I grew to be extremely upset as if a legend just passed away for good to the point I could not sleep. It just dawned to me what sheer amount of talent he have at a young age when he played that flamboyant T.E Lawrence. As I wrote a mini post to my Lawrence of Arabia tumblr blog,it was difficult to express my shock over that news,so I recalled that scene that sealed my fate and love to that film “He have this charisma that electrify the entire audience. I remember that haunting scream “No Prisoners! No Prisoners!” that sealed my fate to that film. It was so frighting even when I watched for the second-it was these eyes that shook me to the core.”

I remember that I was delighted that he was in The Last Emperor and I extremely enjoyed his performance as Puiyi’s English tutor Mr Johnston because he played it with such class and dleight that it evoked me back to LoA again. That film was the first one I watch at the big screen and he was no less amazing.

Even in his lesser known roles like The King in Stardust (2007) or the critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille,he still shines at his roles beautifully. He is such a talent.

Yes there is some hope for actors that lift our ‘Acting’ status in Hollywood or anywhere else like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver,Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar Wai’s films,Robert Downey Jr who made his comeback after his drug bust in the 1990’s with his fun performance in Iron Man. My cinephile buddy said that  Michael Fassbender is the new rising star for the film industry with such raw talent seen in Shame and Hunger. Yes there is hope in humanity for promising actors but they will never ever reach that standard Sir O’Toole have established. Never. He would be greatly missed for me for his acting and made me want to re-watch Lawrence of Arabia and his filmography to see such a great actor in work.

So farewell Peter O’Toole,I hope that someday that I would meet you,this legend and I would thank you for making me appreciate the beauty of film.

Image

Post Navigation