Sunday, February 21

Review: The Virgin Suicides

The film begins with a voice-over. "Cecilia went first". We only know the movie's title at this point. Fill in the blanks. We see a girl being taken to the hospital, where a doctor asks: "What are you doing here, honey? You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets". The tween girl in the bed, wrists covered in bandages, answers in a very down-to-earth way: "Obviously, Doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl."

This film will not explain to you how it is to be a 13-year old girl. It is never explained why all 5 Lisbon sisters take their lives. It doesn't come completely out of the blue, but what pushed them over edge is never clarified. It is never explained why the youngest one jumps from a window, only for her sisters to follow a year later. It's never clarified why they hang, poison and gas themselves. But trust me, you will know.

I once asked my mother, who is a psychologist, if she never was appalled by all the horrible things here clients did. How can you feel remorse for someone who hits his children? She then told me that those people tended to have problems with their marriage, have to work way too much to make ends meet, might be or have been alcoholics and have children who are nagging all day long while they are trying to make them survive. What they do is still unacceptable, but at least you understand.

And that is what this movie does: it presents characters who can be understood. The house of the Lisbons is bleak and loveless because of their conservative and rigid parents, yet you see a father who loves his daughters and has a thing for airplanes. You see a guy who is scoring with all the nice chicks and leaves the girl off his dreams after their one night together, but you also see how nervous he is when he it trying to get close to her . Maybe you don't approve, but you will understand.

It should be clear by now that this is not a light-hearted film. Sofia Coppola is not a director who makes friendly movies. But this is a drama in the best sense of the world: a clash between genuine people who are just people. And you will understand both sides. It reminded me of Greek tragedies: everyone has a point, but it all ends in tragedy for all involved.

This is one of the most gripping films I have seen in a while. Not a full-on classic, but pretty damn close.


P.S. What is it with female directors writing movies that completely understand boys? First Bigalow with The Hurt Locker, now this... They are on us, guys.

For the music today: a song from the soundtrack of the film with a video made from excerpts of the film.

Thursday, February 4

Review: Up in the Air

Jason Reitman (who made Thank You for Smoking and Juno before this one) has moviemaking in his blood: his father, Ivan Reitman, directed Ghostbusters. That movie was pretty much the essential children's movie of the eighties, so little Jason had quite something to live up to. He did this beautifully by making what is in my book the essential teenager movie of the 00's: Juno. Now he is back with Up in the Air, a movie about people in the economic crisis. And while it's pretty damn good, it was also pretty confusing.

First the good bits. Reitman has a stunning ability to make his characters, even if they are a little stereotypical, feel alive. It is almost as if you are taking part in their conversations. This is helped by good acting and excellent writing. The dialogues are sharp but at the same time meaningful. A standout moment for me was the conversation where a couple in their fourties tell a just-dumped girl in her twenties about love. This moment really spoke to me on a personal level. It might have even taught me something, and that's kind of rare on itself for a movie.

You might have noticed that Up in the Air shares a lot of it's virtues with Juno. That doesn't mean it's more of the same. The only thing the two films really share are the atmosphere and the themes about recent times. Up in the Air is a lot more mature the Reitman's previous films: the theme of people getting fired creates some rather heavy moments. This is not too strange, of course: the characters are all adults, instead of the teenagers of Juno.

Now for the bad bits. As I said, the movie confused me. Juno refreshingly passed no judgment at all on it's characters. This felt as a relief for a movie about such a touchy subject as teen pregnancy. Up in the Air doesn't do this either. The confusing part is that everything points at the fact that it wants to.

Let me clarify that. Clooney's character holds speeches about being a successful businessman, in which he tells people to be detached. He himself doesn't form any relationships whatsoever, which makes him the best at what he does. But then he meets a woman for whom he has genuine emotions. Happy ending? They get together and Georgie learns a valuable lesson about love and stuff? No. The movie ends without really wrapping this up. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it just didn't seem to make sense in the context.

Don't let this keep you from seeing it anyway. It might not be a masterpiece, but it's still a damn well made movie with a great atmosphere that you won't regret immersing yourself in for 2 hours of your life.


As for the music, here is a simple but catchy song with some sweet guitar licks.

Ben Harper - Diamonds on the inside
GeĆ¼pload door jasmin25. - Ontdek andere muziek video's.