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Outside Event #2: Weekend by Andrew Haigh

9 Dec

For my second outside event I decided to venture out to Landmark Cinemas a see a film I typically wouldn’t normally see, and this was Weekend by British director Andrew Haigh.  I read an interview with the main character in the film before, which peaked my interest in the film and I was pleased to see that the film has had much acclaim from various film festivals.  Weekend is a story about two men who have a chance meeting and end up spending the weekend together, filling a big void in each other lives, but cannot be together because one of them is leaving for the United States.  While the two men in Weekend had a lot of chemistry, their relationship and story sort of  reminded me of Lost In Translation, another example of two people who have this attraction that cannot be together because of physicality.

In the article I read with one of the main characters, Tom Cullen, he said that he was straight but I found both actors very convincing.  We often do not see many gay couples represented in film with the exception of Brokeback Mountain, but I found this film Weekend to be a much more realistic and life-like portrayal of a gay couple, mediating between their family and friends and society.  Maybe it was because they were British, but the film had a really good witty vibe to it and authenticity in the story and events that made it likable.  Overall, Weekend was a great movie and I would recommend it to my friends.

The Year of Living Dangerously by Peter Weir

8 Dec

The Year of Living Dangerously was an interesting movie about journalists working in Indonesia during the overthrow of President Sukarno.  Even though this is a different country the movie reminded me of my parent’s experiences from the Vietnam War and the spread of communism at the time.  I found Linda Hunt’s character to be very interesting and I wondered why they cast her for the role of Billy Kwan, which she won an Oscar that year for.  I also was somewhat confused as to her relationship with the Indonesian mother and child with whom he would visit and give money to.  Was the young boy Billy’s?  The Year of Living Dangerously points out the often overlooked and dangerous jobs journalists have when they are overseas cover wars, especially in places with great political unrest.  Overall, I thought the movie was good and like I mentioned before sort of summoned a sense of nostalgia for my parent’s own stories.

Restrepo by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington

1 Dec

Restrepo is a documentary about the army men who were in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.  The Korengal Valley is considered on of the most dangerous areas of combat in Afghanistan, so the documentary was a very raw and candid look at the great sacrifices our servicemen do for our country.  I do not think I have ever seen such a first hand look at what war has been like since Restrepo, the men living in harsh conditions 24/7 are constantly on the watch for opposing fire, and see death on a daily basis.  Restrepo showed a couple of scenes where they would have meetings with local Afghani elders, which was interesting to see.  The documentary struck close to home since my brother-in-law came back from his deployment in Afghanistan this past year, so it was like I got to see a glimpse of the things he has to deal with, which are extremely difficult and severe.  We take for granted all the freedoms and comfort we have here in the United States, so it was a very humbling documentary of how another part of the world lives and how our servicemen live.

La Bamba by Luis Valdez

29 Nov

La Bamba is the story of singer Ritchie Valens short life.  For the most part, I have been pretty unfamiliar with the music from the 1950s so it was intriguing to see how the singer became popular.  What I enjoyed most about the film was the tight family relationship they had in the film, and how Ritchie was very true to himself and his family.  First, we saw the older brother, Bob, come back and take the family out of the migrant worker camp and move them closer to the city.  Then, when Ritchie became successful he bought a beautiful home for his family to live in.  I loved how the mother was always so support of both of her sons entering into the arts, whether it was Bob in drawing or Ritchie in singing.  She wanted them to follow their dreams, even though she couldn’t.  I was surprised to find out that he had passed away with Buddy Holly in the plane crash, and I wondering if that had anything to do with his protective necklace breaking.  Overall, La Bamba was a great movie about Ritchie Valens life.

Pow Wow Highway by Jonathan Wacks

29 Nov

Pow Wow Highway was a great movie about white prejudice against Native Americans and the Red Bow family’s triumphant escape from corrupt policemen in Santa Fe.  At first I was questioning why we were watching the movie for class but I found the movie to be very interesting and surprised by Philbert’s character.  We can see that Philbert is very caught up in his quest to obtain objects for his medicine bag, so the journey to Santa Fe to save Bonnie is also a spiritual journey for him.  Initially we think of him as this gumpy, spineless individual whose mind is completely somewhere else, but his quest ends up helping them break Bonnie free safely and possibly with the help of powers greater than themselves.  The end of the movie solidifies the bond between Buddy and Philbert but also shows power of the objects in Philbert’s medicine bag.  Another character I enjoyed in the movie was Rabbit, who I initially thought was Dolly Parton, but she added some much needed sass and humor to the movie.  Overall, it was a good movie and an insight into the injustices that occurred with Native Americans.

Strictly Ballroom by Baz Luhrman

17 Nov

With growing popularity in ballroom dancing nowadays with shows like Dancing with the Stars, it was interesting to get a glimpse into the competitive art.  Baz Luhrman, one of my favorites, directed this film making great films like this one and Moulin Rouge.  We often think that ballroom dancing is stuffy and associated with an older world, but we see the main character Scott tired of all traditional constraints of the sport and goes against the grain.  Scott even goes against what he would normally do and picks a new partner based on his intuition.  Which eventually ends up to be someone he likes romantically.  Strictly Ballroom was great tale of how you can go against the grain and pave our own path.  Sometime it is not about following the rules to a T but doing what your heart and mind like and when you do something that makes yourself happy others will follow.

Life Through a Lens… Annie Leibovitz

6 Nov

Life Through a Lens is a wonderful documentary about the life of legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz.  I throughly enjoyed learning about her early history with Rolling Stone Magazine, and progression from being a rock and roll photographer to multifaceted artist.  Having a background in fashion, I can remember very distinct instances flipping through issues of Vogue admiring her incredible photographs.  Like with any established and revered artist you can see their signature stamp and the documentary did a really incredible job at explaining how Leibovitz came to develop that thought-provoking style of hers.  It is hard to explain but you can always point out a Annie Leibovitz photograph.  The documentary made me think of the movie Almost Famous, where the teenage boy follows a big band for a magazine story.  I wondered if this was based on Leibovitz’s life since her method of achieving those great photographs was by joining the tour of famous artists, being enveloped in their daily lives, and capturing the most candid photos.  Another interesting side of the documentary was her personal life, we see that she is a huge family person and that she had a partner who passed away.  Life Through a Lens, was a great insight into the life of famed photographer.

Self portrait of Annie Leibovitz.

I love the story behind this photo of Fleetwood Mac, Leibovitz pictured them all on this bed together with linens strewn amongst them.  It was symbolic of their highly complicated relationships with one another.

My favorite photograph of Kristen Dunst and Jason Schwartzman for American Vogue.