Bonus: The Pianist

I watched this film with my grandmother at her request because she is a professional pianist. I am going to be writing from my grandmother’s opinion as well as my own. My grandmother really enjoyed the film as it showed the hardships people faced in that time and how hard it was to be able to do what you loved (in this case, play the piano). This film is about survival in both the body and spirit. The film gets it’s message across usually through symbolism. Wladyslaw is seen playing his piano at the beginning of the film before he is under attack from German bombs. This symbolizes the beauty of life being destroyed by the nazi German army. The song he plays represents the struggle the Jewish people had as well and how much hardship they had to face. Wladyslaw first faces physical survival giving up any shot of traveling the world with his music in order to ensure that his family is safe first and foremost. This film is a shoutout to all musicians and classical music lovers. It also elicits strong emotion as in those times of horror, people had to remain strong in the face of terror specifically coming from the nazi regime.

The final scene of the film shows Wladyslaw playing his piano in concert. It is poignant as his music represents the Jewish people. The film is really an empowering message not only to music lovers but to everyone. It is food for the soul as the continuous message throughout the film is to not give up on your dreams and to ignite the fire within you. Polanski does a great job portraying the experience in a way where it is deeply felt by the audience. The music connects to the reality of their horror and is an ignition for them to fight for every step they must take forward to reclaim their lives.

Bonus: Suspiria

One of the more interesting directors I would say from the list of films we were to watch in class. Luca Guadagino is a masterful director who is known to tap into our senses with his play on the films he has directed. This is extremely evident in the way he directed this horror film. He tries to elicit emotion from this horror by keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Also, pretty interesting casting Dakota Johnson as his lead in this film. I personally adore Dakota Johnson and enjoyed her being a protagonist in yet another thriller/drama type film even more so because of the horror factor. Although it is a horror film, Guadagino uses the dance academy to extract different kinds of responses. It felt like a more modern take in the film as it seems there is more physicality and overt sexuality in the choreography in the film. Argento the director of the 1977 film barely explored the power the dancing portion had on viewers. Guadagino is brilliant in how he used dancing to explore more on sexuality. He explicitly creates a sort of perverted version of dancing in which it goes past just a physical activity but turns into a artistic expression of sorts.

I found it interesting that the film is still set in 1977 and that they continuously stress the fact that the government in the film is still being run by the same people from the nazi era. There obviously will be comparisons as Guadagino’s remake takes a different angle compared to Argento’s film. It is a whole different experience. The original version sustained itself with primary-colored floodlights, especially red. , Guadagnino’s version is a different experience altogether. His color palette is muted to reflect the dour, autumnal setting.

Finally, I love how it’s a horror film in which you really have to think. The film isn’t made for dull minds because those kind of viewers would usually find this film boring for it’s lack of jump-scares and the confusion of the film. It’s not your average conventional horror films as the director really plays on metaphors and the need for audiences to know some details about Germany to really appreciate the film.

Bonus: Nosotros los Nobles

For this bonus blog post, I wanted to write about a Spanish comedy which I thought was hilarious. It’s a very fun film to watch because it centers around three rich spoiled young adults who do not know how to make their own living in the real world. Their father who came from humble beginnings is in awe of the nostalgia of his father’s old house (broken and humble). Their father is a rich business man but feels his children are too spoiled so he devises a plan where he pretends to have lost all his money and his children will have to find a way to make their own living. Films like this are emotionally humbling because in today’s youth it is so very easy for people to take for granted what they have in life.

The film is set in posh neighborhoods in Mexico where the three children are very much sheltered from the real world. The biggest social concern the film tackled was the income inequality in Mexico and the director Gary Alazaraki portrayed this problem in a comedic sense. Without the sense of comedy in the film, it would have struck a few emotional nerves. I love the play on riches to rags. It comes off as sort of a parody type to drama films that focus on rags to riches. The film shows another side to Mexico, the young professionals. It kind of shows that Mexico is known for a lot more than just drugs and partying but it can also be about social concerns. Hopefully it also kind of helped people be more “woke”. Class consciousness is a serious problem in Mexico. Unlike films from the US, Mexican social classes are very different on the spectrum. The mexican classes usually consists of upper and lower class. The US depicts classes as a more middle class centric basis.

Volver de la Muerto

Volver in my opinion is the best film from the selection of films we’ve watched. I watched this film a couple of years back in my high school Spanish class and it was one of the first European films I had been exposed to and definitely was not disappointed. The film although it came out in 2006 tackled a lot of problems women face today well over a decade later. The film starred by world class actress Penelope Cruz boasts it’s cinematic excellence with a ton of foreshadowing scenes. A common cinematic saying I’ve read about states that you should never point a gun unless you plan to fire it (metaphor). This saying means that there are no scenes you or objects/references you should show unless it has purpose to the story. In one scene, Raimunda is being shown from an overview angle washing a knife. That scene may have seemed random but a few scenes later, it is the very knife used by her daughter Paula in self defense against her father, Paco. Now we see more complex forms of foreshadowing when Raimunda finds Paco dead. At first she was shocked and horrified at the sight but then as Paula explains Paco’s attempt at her, you can see Raimunda’s reaction change drastically to a more understanding and calm demeanor. I find foreshadowing the best cinematic tool directors use to give films a more mysterious and exciting element.

I find that the film has it’s fair share of mystery and clues on the outcome of the film as it unfolds but what really surprised me were the plot twists in the film. The film came off as slow in the very beginning with not much happening and rather early on in the film, deaths of who I thought were a major characters, Paco and Aunt Paula. A big theme in the film was death. But it was like a snowball, more and more things were happening in the film until it neared the end where most of the plot twists were coming out. What I liked most about the film was that I wasn’t able to predict the ending. Usually in films, it is rather easy to predict the end. I guess this is what separates the good films from the great, the mysteriousness of the film. The director did a fantastic job with cinematography as well by decking out the film in bright red any chance he had as a way to mask the darkness of the film. The film although dark with so much death, had some sense of excitement and thriller to it. It was an overall good film because it all doesn’t make sense until the very end of the film.

Clouds of Maloja Snake

The film Clouds of Sils Maria is a very interesting film with an interesting turn of events. I admire their play on the role reversals of the character Maria who in her youth, played Sigrid who in the play manipulated an older and more vulnerable woman Helena. Now, years later in a remake of the play, Maria is asked to play the character Helena. Now this is an interesting plot all on it’s own but it is even more beautifully portrayed in the film because it is also reflected in the real life of Maria as she takes on an assistant by the name of Valentine who also in a way is the Sigrid to Maria’s Helena in the analogy. However, Maria sees herself still as the same persona type as Sigrid and really despises Helena’s character persona.

The new director of the remade play, Klaus Diesterweg sees an ageing and problematic Maria who seems vulnerable and perfect for the role of Helena. In the original play, the woman who played Helena, Susan mysteriously died in a car crash after the play’s success. Now many years later, Maria holds a superstitious belief that the reason Susan died was because she played the character Helena. You can see the relationship between Valentine and Maria grow as they are somewhat fond with each other but in the end of the day, Val is still employed by Maria and generally, her ideas aren’t as respected by Maria.

The ending of the film really spoke to me as it alluded to the end of the play Maloja Snake. In the play, Sigrid convinces Helena to commit suicide by going to the mountain. Now what gets really interesting is that the director Wilhelm is also said to have committed in the same mountain. Now with all that in mind, it seems as if Val left Maria in the mountain to do the same? This part was unclear. But as an ending to the film, it did a great job for leaving room for open interpretation.

Heavy Metal Trip

Although heavy metal isn’t my cup of tea in terms of music, this movie proved to be entertaining in it’s puns and gags. I was definitely not aware that heavy metal had a cult-like following in Scandinavian countries. The movie appeals to me because these four friends who have musical talent decide to pursue their journey after 12 long years of waiting for the right moment. The film’s characters had a different ray of personalities each with their own unique image are the most metal group of guys in their small village. It’s evident in the way they carry themselves that they idolise the icon rockband “KISS” as they even have the full face paint extravaganza going on.

The film strangely enough for me kind of reminded me of a film that came out early in the year, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Because of the plot’s mix of comedy and serious plot lines. The difference being the true story factor of course as Bohemian Rhapsody was based on the true story of Queen. This film seemed like a spoof version of Bohemian Rhapsody with a twist of heavy metal instead of Queen’s pop/rock genre. The shift in seriousness of the film kind of catches you off-guard as the first half of the film is mostly where all the gags and comedic content is and then it shifts to a sort of serious drama. The directors really do a good job of attracting metal type music dorks to the film. Personally I could not fully appreciate the comedy as it does not completely relate to me but I’m sure a lot of musical fanatics thoroughly appreciated the film’s comedy.

Carnivore: Raw

“Raw” a coming-of-age film adds it’s own little twist to what it feels is peer pressures of the college experience. Raw has it’s fair share of peer pressure and “addictions” in the form of cannibalism. The film’s gory factor definitely had me squeamish as it was overly outlined with the explicit scenes of cannibalism. I found the play on Justine being a vegetarian throughout her life and having never tried meat interesting but the it gets even more interesting as she is going to veterinary school which instigates that she has a love for animals. A hazing ritual gone wrong unlocks Justine’s inherent character trait as she then longs for flesh after being exposed to a strange delicacy, duck kidney while also being drenched in animal blood. What’s strange to me is that the film progresses as if Justine is transitioning into a folklorish monster as the cravings were not instantaneous rather they came in stages.

You can say that there is a link between the start of Justine’s cannibalistic nature and her sexual awakening as the two emerge simultaneously. I mean the scene where she takes a bite out of her own arm during intercourse, that says it all. The college setting and trying new things in college is a great way to pursue a modern horror film such as this one as it isn’t too impossible for this story to be a possibility but then is a cinematically creative plot.