Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni
March 1, 2009; Netflix Wakefield MA
Antonioni continues here with his experimentation with story structure and the way we watch movies. Again, a major plot point, which "blows-up" in the middle of the film, is seemingly let to drift away as the main character is left to contemplate greater forces in life, some of which got him into the predicament that he found himself in.
Blowup, like L'avventura (1960), is about self-absorbed people who seem not to be aware of the people around them, hence the reoccurring characters of the mimes, who are only playing at real life. Thomas (David Hemmings) is a well known photographer in London, who after a string of pompous, not to mention hilarious, photo shoots, gets bored and starts to take pictures in a park. He notices a couple walking around and kissing and follows them while photographing. Of course, he is finally spotted and the woman (Venessa Redgrave) runs over to demand the film. He refuses, saying he has every right to film them and they argue over this point. He eventually gets back to the studio only to be startled by the fact that the woman has stalked him there. Again she demands the film, but of course this only makes him more curious about is. He gets her to take another roll of film, and proceeds to blow up the film. After doing this many times, he is able to spot a body on the ground and a killer in the trees with a gun. From there, the film completely changes.
My jaw definitely dropped during this scene and it is really well done. When you understand that Tommy boy has uncovered something sinister, you wonder if it will change him; I think it does. More heady subjects about life end up heavily affecting Tom, especially at the end, where a "Does it all really matter anyway?" vibe is heavily felt. Some of the things, like the mimes playing "tennis" are heavy-handed (yeah yeah I get dude; "was is all real or was it an illusion?!?"), but overall the film is good. I like the deep focus b/w camera and the angles and movement (or lack there of). I can understand why someone wouldn't like it but it was strange and interesting enough.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni
February 24, 2009; Netflix Wakefield MA
So I've been putting off writing a review of this for sometime, as you can tell from when I watched it to now. I'm still not sure that I like the film as a whole, but it was well made and worth watching.
My first reaction to the premise that the central plot (that a girl goes missing on an island and nobody has any idea what has happened to her) that is driving the film be abandoned to focus on more broad issues (the meaning of life, love, infidelity, blahblahblah) was one of frustration. I was really wanted to know what happened to Anna, the missing girl, but on further thought, the fact that she is never found and seemingly forgotten, of course, is the whole point. Whether or not you like that is opinion.
Sandro and Anna, a seemingly happy, rich, couple, along with Anna's friend Claudia (a HAWT Monica Vitti) join other rich Italian couples on a boat ride along the coast of Sicily. They eventually get off on an island, where, over the course of time, Anna disappears. Where did she go? Did she drown? Did she get on another boat and ride back to the mainland to start a new life? Maybe, but again, it is besides the point.
Anna and Sandro's argument on the island right before she disappears is important. Sandro wants nothing to do with it while Anna seems to want to talk about their relationship in broader terms. After this of course, Anna is gone. Sandro, while seeming to be diligently looking for her, has already turned his attention on Claudia, who of course is reluctant to do anything while her friend is missing. Eventually they have to call it quits on the island, because she obviously isn't there, and they head back to the mainland. Here Claudia and Sandro start a relationship, and while they drive around "looking" for Anna and any clues relating to her, the focus of the film has changed.
The broader theme of the film seems to be about the lifestyles these rich, decadent people live and the great human connectors (friendship, love, ect.) that they seem to take for granted. The couples on the boat who accompany the original threesome have empty relationships; they are terse and even degrading to their partners and are always looking for a new, quicker pleasure. They are all eager to move on from the island when the initial search for Anna is unsuccessful. At the party near the end of the movie, the couples who were on the boat don't even mention Anna or inquire about her search. They have moved on.
Sandro seems to be the main cause of Anna's disappearance. Anna might have had a fleeting suspicion of Sandro's intended infidelity when she screamed from the water that there was a shark. She later tells Claudia that she lied. Did she do this to prove a point to Claudia; that this is what she was getting into? Once Anna is out of Sandro's interest, their relationship ended, she disappears. Sandro can't seem to control himself, growing restless as the movie goes on, picking fights and becoming even tired of his new flame, Claudia. In the end, he even moves on from her, being caught by Claudia on a couch at the party with a call girl.
So where is the film at the end? When everyone seems to have shown their true, shallow selves, maybe a glimmer of hope for someone who doesn't want to succumb to the trivial lives that the rest of the characters are leading. Or perhaps the horrible realization that she is stuck in tthat world with the rest of them. When Claudia flees the party house in tears at finding out what Sandro really is, Sandro staggers out, seemingly disgusted with himself. She later walks over to where he is sitting, and for a second she seems to want to hit him, but then she apparently accepts him for what he is by placing a gentle hand on his head. Perhaps she has finally seen everything for what it really is, empty and vapid, and despite all of that, she doesn't want to disappear as well.