The length of this title might give you sore eyes.
For the ones who have already lost theirs, please accept my apologies and the following solutions :
1. Getting your level of patience and stock of eye drops fully loaded.
2. Agreeing that this post is full of mystery (like its creator) (Spoiler: This article is not my idea, by the way. Can you smell the fraud here? )
3. Considering that your time is a scarce commodity, and therefore knowingly choosing to proceed with your reading, or going for a toast of pâté instead (I would merely recommend to combine both).
If you’re still agreeing to join the party, that your eyes survived to this hardship, be aware that you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. This post will have a second part (Spoiler: Still not my idea, but you will get it soon.)
The following humble piece of writing has been crafted while listening to a lot of Mark Knopfler, along with six litres of tea (I firmly believe that a second bladder is growing inside of me ), and after a tasting of Mouna (the equivalent of a Rolls Royce when it comes to brioche… And please, be aware that brioche is not a subject we are taking lightly in this realm).
Now that things have been clarified, I invite you to take a seat (I swear, we’re about to have a good time).
« Dear A.,
I was about to face one of this daunting challenge i’m familiar with (meaning the tasting of a Paris-Brest as a dessert) when I received your missive (editor’s note: The readers could imagine that we’re communicating via papyrus, when it’s only about whatsapp). I almost died chocking on praline cream. The minute after, a sweet feeling of might laid hold on me (or maybe it was just a sugar rush).
As you might have noticed on this screnshot, my dinner are now set up at the Irish time. Therefore, that’s more than likely that I would cease all jokes about your cultural habits, meaning eating at the same hour as an octogenarian . And yes, Frenchies are facetious (which is the only strategy my people found out to draw the attention away from the fact that moldy milk is, as per our standard, the supreme sign of cultural sophistication).
Dear A, our friendship has always been based on a fundamental principle : complementarity and opposition.
Your size allows you to reach any pack of biscuits placed on any high shelf in the world, when my 1 meter 60 condemns me to leave forever at the level of people’s armpits in the metro.
After a cakes’ orgy (In which I was certainly involved in), you can easily berate yourself, tormented with remorse, when I’m considering to bathe in an ocean of cheesecakes (weirdly, this has never prevented you from joining Sugarland any time we had the occasion).
You don’t like to plan anything. If God was existing, in my world, he/she would certainly take the form of a list (People need to imagine that I’m the proud owner of a list including cakes I need to try before the end of 2021, or the languages in which I need to learn the word platypus. Each one of us has its cross to bear).
If it’s snowing, chances are high that when contemplating a snowflake, you would wonder if the ones represented on the Christmas decorations are accurate (spoiler : the answer is no), while I would probably wonder how many contests of snowmen are organized in the world (this question is still under investigation).
Birthdays are for you a day like the others, when for me, it’s the moment where the miracle of time going backward is happening, bringing me back to the wonderful land of my 7 years old (and giving me an official occasion to drink and eat like a pig).
The principle of polarity illustrated. The balance between broccolis and diabetes.
Oui mais voilà… One day we were getting busy
to save the world to eat a wok with broccolis (yes, this is happening as well), you said: « I don’t like watching movies that much. Well, yes but no, I’m getting easily bored. »
I think that I remained speechless, with some broccolis sadly stuck between my teeth, thinking that this balance of us will be forever broken, the world of hell opening under our feet (Who said drama there?).
After a pandemic, things ending, things starting, I’m gaining a better at understanding something: the infinity of ways people are connecting to reality, the different ways they are drawing the connections between their dots, in order to give meaning to the world (Merci, Amanda Palmer).
My way to connect the dots is about picturing that a cloud has the shape of a duck. This is only in that way that checking what a nimbostratus is will come to my mind.
I have this visceral need to be told stories, to experience how people are feeling about things. I need to picture how it’s like to have an alien hidden in your closet, to go for a quest to find the lost arch in the middle of the World War II world (and being more afraid of snakes than Nazis), to know that if I were losing my hands, there would still be the option to get some shears grafting instead, to seduce the coolest girl of the area (even more if its Winona Rider).
Because otherwise, ET is just a filthy crumpled thing coming on earth to scare children and squat their rooms. Indiana Jones would be a BDSM dungeon master ignoring his true nature. Or Edward Scissorhands a poor loser who missed the opportunity to take over Robert Smith.
Cinema, art in the general, is like the existential comforter allowing me to apprehend the world with less roughness. And even if chaos is out there, with its cohort of numbers or established facts I don’t get, I know that there is another door from which i can view things, in a more accessible and peaceful way for my mind.
So when few years and something after this conversation around a wok I received your request, you can imagine how much I squealed with joy, like an hysterical hamster.
Dear A., here is the list of movies I haven’t watched, and which I hope, will offer me other ways to make a connection between the dots of my own reality, to see the world through the eyes of the ones who are trying to interpret it, with the power of their imagination. New ways to be surprised, challenged, reassured, to learn and unlearn. Or just to escape to the big nonsense of the world for few hours. And I hope that this will of use to you.
Happy birthday, sean-ghabhair.
P.s : I’m giggling thinking about the fact that, at the time I’m writing this post (17h30), you must have already eaten like the grand pa that you are. »
- Prova d’orchestra, Fellini / Orchestra Rehearsal
About Fellini, I know that he directed the Dolce Vita. And I have neither watched the Dolce Vita, nor other movies of him. I have spent 35 years of my life, ignoring the one who is defined as one of the maestro of the Italian cinema (or even just cinema).
You must be wondering what encouraged me to put this choice on the top of my list?
Well, you shall not be disappointed…
The trigger : It’s all about this quote (found while I was looking for some recipes of pasta with Gorgonzola) :
« Life is a combination of pasta and magic. »« LA VITA È UNA COMBINAZIONE DI PASTA E DI MAGIA.«
We have the triggers that we have, you may say… But the fact that this guy from Rimini, winner of 5 Oscars, at the origin of a new and defining cinematic language, and the revitalization of a certain Italian cinema, chose a plate of tortellini to express his conception of life and art is just… the kind of absurd poetry having the same effect on me as a squinting pug (= something I can barely resist to).
I know that getting interested in cinema is as well diving in its history, its codes, things that shaped it. This requires a particular frame of mind that might need a trigger (and it can be just about tortellini).
What am I expecting from it: The pitch of the movie seems to answer one of my actual and personal need: witnessing the art of someone able to inject a bit of onirism and absurd humour into social and political chaos. And like every Fellini newbies, a lesson of cinema (I admit to have indulged myself recently into Netflix Korean love stories, absurdly entertaining. I might tell you something one day about this strange addiction).
2. Mean streets, Martin Scorsese
Scorsese and myself are sharing a long relationship made of ambiguity and bladder’s control (yes, again).
In 2014, I literally drooled of boredom and discomfort in front of Aviator. Discomfort was more induced by my stubbornness when it comes to avoid going for a pee break during a movie, than about the movie itself.
According to one my old twisted rules, it is allowed to gobble pop-corn during a projection (I can already hear the league of the extremists anti pop-corn. I love you my dear friends), but going to pee during a movie lasting for 2h50 was a rule I was never violating (this habit could have granted me a partnership with an adult brand of diapers. Sorry for my lack of knowledge regarding brands of incontinence pads). As if, to appreciate a movie, a hard core commitment was required, at the risk of breaking elementary health rules (between the tortellini obsession and the bladder, this is what I’m calling a partyjoining this party…)
Before that, I had the experience of Taxi Driver, a story of ordinary violence, quite common on paper, but shot and directed like nothing else I knew. The image of New-York I built in my mind when I was younger was the one of Scorsese in that film: a city full of noises, violence, life, and gangsters. With De Niro and his glasses, Jodi Foster and her red shoes, the hat too big for her, and her face of lost teenager. What I loved above all was this way of dealing with this twilight zone, where a character is not only a bad guy or an innocent victim. And the question it asked about how it is to feel excluded from, or at the opposite, part of this world.
After 3h30 spent in the company of The Irishman (That I like. But it might be as well that since the Aviator gate, I learnt how to be more organized and nice with myself, knowing that my consumption of tea increased), I considered thatr one of his movie pre Taxi Driver’s era could be a good call.
The trigger : The trigger is about this scene I have heard about:
De Niro, The stones Stones, but mainly the fact that the character is speaking in his head, which is the equivalent of a stylistic literary interior monologue, but in a visual way. Pure genius.
What am I expecting from it: To see the early stages of what I liked so much in Taxi Driver, and maybe a storytelling that is even more raw on the theme of the changeover leading people to the dark side.
3. Victoria, Sebastian Schipper
One of the thrilling thing about cinema, and that I adore, is the pure experience of it. The experience. Like if for few hours, someone was literally giving his eyes to me to see the world (which could be quite fucked up if you’re ending up being trapped with the eyes of a poodles ripper…).
In that sense, I have been through delicious hallucinatory experiences, without drugs, like with the Climax of Noé, where fascination and the desire of removing my own eyes of discomfort were going together (hence the important notion that art is as well a question of taste). But as well moments equivalent to the ones where I was promised a brioche and received instead a dry croissant (a reference to Midsommar, its appealing package, and its content full of vacuity, like a dog bowl’s after 15 days of diet).
The trigger : It’s coming from the making of it, and the fact that it has been shot in one long sequence shot. You have to imagine how many resources it requires to create a movie based on a single shot of 2h14, but as well what it says about the intention of creation of its director (one of this person who must still prevent herself from taking a pee break).
What am I expecting from it: A movie were technique is at the service of the storytelling, and not the opposite. Where I could travel in the Berlin of the raids, like Scorsese invited me to a trip in the New-York of gangsters.
4. Life, Anton Corbijn
If you cannot see Robert Pattinson without picturing him sparkling like hell while feeding himself on squirrels’ blood, I would highly recommend you to make a detour to the experience of The Lighthouse. I seriously think that this guy has the potential of a future Leonardo di Caprio (Meaning having as much bags under his eyes that he has talent. And it’s well known that bag under the eyes are the salt and pepper of men).
Corbijn won my little emo’s heart with his biopic Control about Joy Division, and not only because of the interest I can have for the band. Almost all the ingredients for the magic to operate were there: the bias of the black and white, which was the perfect idea to illustrate what Joy Division’s music is, the performance of Sam Riley of course. In a nutshell: a movie with an ambitious realisation for a biopic associated to a classic form of narrative.
The trigger : The topic, about the importance granted to details. How sometimes something small, a choice among one million, an infinitesimal moment, something we’re barely noticing can make all the difference (like the day I discovered that, if the sugar specks on brioche were not holding, it was because the baker had been stingy regarding butter’s quantity)? If Life seems visually more classic than Control in its form, going from the detail of the history of James Dean instead, of reviewing his full career, is like learning what’s behind the small sugar specks on brioche.
What am I expecting from it: The advent of the biopic of small details, instead of the not-that-interesting one where everything has to fit in (aka my deception regarding Bohemian Rhapsody). This could open the door to a lot of interesting or goofy stories. I’m dreaming about the day where a biopic about Sean Bean will be released, choosing to tell the story on how almost all his characters died on screen, instead of reviewing all the details of his life.
5. 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile, Cristian Mungiu / 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
When we’re discovering a culture, with which we had as much familiarity as with the toes of Dracula (the Clichés’ committee is back), we’re having the same effect as the one obtained in the point 3: we put some new pair of eyes on (because glasses are so 2020), and we go for a trip towards new references.
Concrete example: there’s this Romanian girl, my evil twin, who entered my life 6 years ago. Without her, I would have kept considering that cabbage was limited to choucroute (here is a bit of advertising for the Romanian sarmale), that Romanian music was represented by three (Moldavian) guys singing « numa numa iei » on air plane’s wings (it’s not), or that Romania was this big country, whose capital could be easily confused with the Hungarian one, where its habitants were known to steal from parking meters and to rob chickens (the Clichés’ committee is as much dedicated to bad jokes that it is to brioche).
The trigger: Romania captured my heart through my stomach (the most assured way to reach it), but as well by sharing my home (on the top of it, she liked food as much I did). So the urge to build another connection, going beyond the love of cabbage, naturally occurred.
The movie 12:08 East of Bucharest is the first one I dived into. It had this visual aspect, quite cold, paired with this assertive and funny tone, even when things were on the verge of the absurdity (a bit like my dear Romanian friend, who back then was hiding a tender and humorous heart underneath her Draculean appearance ), and offering a trip in what was remaining of the former system, its impact on the society, through small histories inside the big one. Mungiu was simply one of the recommendation given by my favourite vampire (who, for the info is vegetarian and likes garlic. To this day, none of our relatives complained about the disappearance of chickens).
What am I expecting from it: Another entry into the Romanian society, from the perspective of the intimate rather than an openly political angle. And maybe an understanding, even subjective, about the place of Romanian women in the modern society, with the challenges they can face.
6. Gummo, Harmony Korine
So no, I have not watched Spring Breakers. More because the subject did not interested me rather than the fact that it the involved a bunch of perverted former Disney child glories (idea we cannot deny some charm about. However, I’m from this generation that witnessed Britney Spears shaving her head in live. So no, the bar in terms of subversion when it comes to pop stars is already quite high).
The topic of teenage hood and its stakes have always fascinated me. For its own way to explore limits, the brutality of the transition to the adulthood, the intensity of its first times.
Harmony Korine, is for me the universe of Larry Clark’s Kids. The idea of youth on the edge, with an uncompromising way to analyse it, with all the emotional violence, the roughness, so far from my references. It is the same trashy, raw vision I have found later (at a lesser degree) in the tv show Skins.
The trigger: The non-need to watch Spring Breakers, but instead, teenagers with realistic aspirations and physical appearances. Because adolescence is as well about these times of vacuity and boredom, not always about something fascinating happening (just watch their actual Instagram stories to figure this out).
What am I expecting from it: I imagine that the movie won’t be a game of good old-fashioned laugh (ifit’s the case, will consider going into exiled at the very bottom of my basement). I’m looking for a unique escape into teenage desenchantment. The background of the film, rooted into the social crisis and slackness, seems to be quite an interesting set up to deal with this topic.
7. Paradies: Liebe, Ulrich Seidel / Paradise : Love
A lofting movie, in my humble opinion, could be about a technical aspect, a surprising choice of actors and directions, or just a well-made story.
Or just a subject we’re wondering how the director manage to deal with, while maintaining his mental health. How would you do if you had to make a movie about sex tourism and its protagonists, while avoiding the pitfalls of the sensationalism (the reason why the only scenario I’m considering working on is about how to cultivate carrots in Basse-Normandie) ?
The trigger : This movie seems to be at the opposite of the Harmony Korine’s one (An easy and classic topic = a daring realisation vs a daring realisation = an easy and classic topic). Watching the trailer, I have the feeling of a soberly directed movie, quite beautiful aesthetically speaking (when, I have to admit, the subject does not convey prettiness).
What am I expecting from it: The idea of a non biased movie, dealing with an heavy and subversive topic, remembering me that cinema is, above all, an art, including a research of aesthetic, whatever is the reality exposed in it.
8. The General, Buster Keaton
More the years are passing by, and more the things we’re watching on the big screen seem obvious to us. Because I got used not to move an eyebrow in front of an explosion pulverizing some spaceship for the umpteenth time, I considered that it was the perfect moment to go back to some old classics.
After having repressed some retching sensation in front of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, watched Star Wars episodes repeating endlessly its-elves, and having been through arguably superheroes movies, finding back my inner child as a cinema’s lover seemed essential.
Because cinema is foremost an art I see like a kids’ creation, where a big mistake is leading to the first effect in the genre’s history thanks to Mélies, an art where costumes can be created from toilet papers rolls and pieces of carton boxes, where a soundtrack can be made from banging pans with sticks, like in Gondry’s Be kind, Rewind. This is once again all about magic and pasta. And mainly about magic.
The trigger: Going for Buster Keaton seemed an obvious choice, for the enthusiasm he put, like a child, into the crafting of his work, but as well because his eyes were perfectly matching the ones of his bouledogue (something I’m finding moving to the highest level):
What am I expecting from it: Watching a movie in which Buster Keaton was performing his own stunts on a moving train, at a time where people, for me, were still fighting with potatoes guns (my sense of nuance stayed in 2020), and being able to get amazed by it, is the ultimate gift I’m expecting from this movie (And because it has now entered the public domain, it’s fully available on Youtube. Christmas before and after time).
9. Shichinin no samurai, Akira Kurosawa / Seven samurai
If you’re telling me about Japanese movies, it’s more than likely that I will tell you about the animated universe of Miyazaki, the recent Shoplifters/Manbiki kazoku and the ultimate classic that is Grave of the fireflies/Hotaru no haka (that could drill the armour of any stone-hearted person. Or if it’s not case, you might belong to the cast of the poodles rippers).
Which proves how pristine is my knowledge on this topic.
The trigger: I think that one of the Game of Thrones actors mentioned the film as being one of the greatest incursion in the universe of contrasted heroes, and the reason why characters like Jaime, Cersei or Tywin Lannister could not only attract sympathy or enmity. It’s common knowledge that I could barely resist to dig into something stated as a reference for this show…
What am I expecting from it: Betrayals, fails, epic battles, moments of courage, humanity, horror, beautiful anti-heroes, and heroes fucking it up. In other words, life, in black and white, with samurai in it (making the cocktails even more awesome).
10. La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos
At the end of 2020, I was celebrating my reunion with a certain type of French cinema I neglected a bit (not because it was not my cup of tea, but my last vacant spot of free time left had been occupied with my incommensurable love for foreign movies and Covid concerns).
That was until Monsieur & Madame Adelman, the first trial of Nicolas Bedos as a director, punched me right in the stomach. It was funny, irreverent, beautiful, joyful in moments of despair. The finely crafted pieces of dialogues reflected the line »Tout sauf l’ennui !/ Everyting except boredom* » of Bedos’ character in the movie. The fact that it was about creation, literature, ego, the place of a talented woman in the shadows of famous writer, the relation to fame just added it up. And I fell in love with the voice and the performance of Dora Tillier, the way she’s irreverently smoking, how she is moving on screen, the spicy elegance she’s giving to her character. Sacrebleu, quoi.
The trigger: Monsieur & Madame Adelman, so, and the fact that as soon as I finished it, I started searching for another movie of Bedos. Bingo. An inception story of cinema, where the best moment of your life can be re-enacted, the idea of creation revisited. And Dora Tillier, encore.
What am I expecting from it: A moment of poetry, without any doubt, of reflection about love and our relation to memories. Oh, and meeting again Dora Tillier (I think that you got it).
11. (Yes, yes, just because) Thx 1138, George Lucas
I will use here the bonus allocated by my dear A. (He knows my tendency to be unstoppable on some topics, like when I have to face 4 cheesecakes).
I’m a Star Wars’ fan. A mourning one, but still, a Star Wars’ fan. I still have the same pleasure when it comes to mimic the voice of Darth Vader while brushing my teeth, or pretending to fight with toilet paper roll/Jedi’s lightsaber.
Star Wars is a saga I consider as cult one when it comes to classic for kids, a universe that takes time to build itself (I’m referring to the episodes IV, V VI, the old ones), with a wonderful creativity, with this reflection that, in all heroes, lies a part of shadows. And if things are ending relatively well (Semi-Spoiler: Someone is losing a limb, getting close to incest, and finding himself alone while watching his sister and best friend having a good time), it’s as well about fails. A wonderful lesson for our young ones, without considering them as idiots (Cf : episodes I, II et II where the contrary happens).
The trigger: According to the pitch of THX 1138, the movie seems to be more about adult topics and sobriety. Which is in total opposition with the feeling I had, watching the last Star Wars, and at the end of which I decided to terminate my relation with the universe of George Lucas. Then, I remembered that he used to be this guy doing cinema like a kid, creating for hours incredible models of spaceships, and world full of fluffy creatures. And that maybe, a new entry to his world might temper my feelings (we cannot disappoint a kid, even if she’s 35, without terrible consequences).
What am I expecting from it : Simply rediscovering Lucas, and falling in love again with his vivid imagination, before his crazy habits of retouching his old films and adding special effects afterwards (FYI, this movie is not an exception to this crazy new rule, so I will go for the original version). A science fiction movies for adults, when Star was (used to) talk to my inner child.
Let’s be honest: the initial list of movies was including 22 entries (and could have blinded you for real).
So this post will have a part two. But this time, it will be about movies I have watched, that shaked my way of seeing things and life (a real subjective point of view, considering the one i had about the poodles rippers. But please, I might judge you a bit if the though of this activity is rising in you an ounce of excitement).
Take care of yourself and your imagination. It’s important.