February 27, 2011

I just returned from seeing my fifth film of the week. The Jameson Film festival is in full swing and being a bit of a cinema addict, I’ve taken full advantage of it this year. This week rather than write about myself I’ve decided to write about some of the relationships I came across in the films I saw this week.

On the opening night of the festival I went to see Submarine, directed by Richard Ayoade (the hot afro guy from the IT Crowd). The film is about two teenagers from the wilds of Wales getting together. Sounds like it could just be another teenage agnst filled romance film but it was so so much more.

The two main characters, Oliver Tate and Jordana Bevan aren’t exactly the stereotypical teenagers. They are both total odd balls in their own individual ways. Oliver is this deep thinking nerd who is always on the periphery. Jordana is a very dominating, intimidating girl who always seems to get her own way in life. Oliver has had a long standing obsession with Jordana. The film follows the story of their budding relationship.

What I absolutely loved about their story was it’s honesty and humour. For most of the film we watch Oliver’s various attempts at woe-ing Jordana which varies from trying to impress her with his knowledge of literature to creating a ‘love shrine’ in his parents bedroom  in the hopes of convincing her to sleep with him.

Oliver and Jordana’s relationship is such a pleasure to watch because it reminds me of what it’s like when you’re 17 and think you have life sussed. It reminds me of the very idealistic way of viewing the world I had at that age which has been dramatically altered over the proceeding 8 years. Oliver’s puppy like innocence against Jordana’s brutally cutting temperament made for hilarious viewing. It also put forward the idea of people learning from their first loves. Whether it’s mastering the art of seduction or learning how to mend a broken heart, Oliver and Jordana give a great (if albeit quirky) insight into ‘first time romances’.

The second film which deserves comment is Preludio, directed by Mexican director Eduar do Lucatero. This is an extraordinary film as it is just one long shot which is 64 mins in length. It’s the story of a guy and girl who meet randomly on the balcony of a house while a party is going on. The duration of the 64 minute film is their conversation.

I suppose this film is closest to my own stage in life at the moment. It was interesting to see how the couple’s conversation developed over the 64 mins. I think people like to think of themselves as rather original in conversations. After all, no two people are the same, each brings a different story to the table.

However, what I learned from this film is that often these type of boy/girl conversations seem to have a very similar format whether it be in Mexico, Ireland or perhaps anywhere else in the world. I have had a good few conversations just like this one. One person says one thing in the hopes it will spark something in the other person to gain their attention and respect. I suppose what you’re really looking for is a connection to another human being.

We learn a lot about the characters in the 64 mins. They go into great detail regarding past relationships. The fact that they both seemed preoccupied with others from the past seems to give them more freedom to express themselves in an open way. Neither went into the conversation thinking there is an agenda or an expectation that this was anything but a mere conversation.However, as the conversation moves on  a connection between the two starts to appear.

The film raises the idea of chance. You know the kind of thing, right place right time etc.. This is an idea that fascinates me. There have been incidents  in my life that do fall under this very same bracket but I have yet to have it in a relationship sense. I, being a bit of a dramatic romantic at times, think it would be kind of great to have one of these chance encounters. For instance, I would love to meet someone in a book shop or a music shop. Logistically, I haven’t quite figured out how a conversation would arise and in fact pan out but it’s some that somewhere that seems pleasant for a chance encounter. I must keep an eye out the next time I’m in Eason’s or HMV…

The last film was one that had a strong effect on me. Overall, it was not about relationships at all, it was a documentary about Method Acting.

It was called Self Made. The director (Gillian Wearing) put a notice in various media, asking for anyone to get in touch who wanted to be in a film where they could play themselves or a fictional character.

They had over 2,000 responses, where 7 people were eventually selected. The documentary follows the various stages of the method workshops the individuals go through. The audience is then shown a short film each person eventually acted in. From these workshops, the audience learns deeply personal/ emotional things about the participants. It is these emotions/ experience which they channel when acting their parts in their own personal films.

I will never fully do the documentary justice by trying to explain each individuals story so instead I will focus on one woman called Leslie.

Leslie was a woman from Newcastle who I would reckon was in her early forties. In the early workshops the audience learns she is very lonely. She has always hoped to get married and have children but it never happened. Throughout the workshops the Method teacher probes her as to the reasons behind why she never met anyone to settle down with. As the film goes on it becomes more and more uncomfortable to watch Leslie’s story because it is clear she is extremely unhappy.

The documentary reaches its most poignant when Leslie is to asked to quote the following:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day ?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

She cries throughout the entire monologue and when the Method teacher asks her why she says that she could never imagine anyone ever thinking that strong an emotion about her. To me, this was incredibly sad. In her forties, she had lost all hope of ever meeting anyone. When she was reminded of the fact that people out there do feel the sentiment of love the poem portrays she was moved to tears.

Her short film was really interesting. It was set in the 1940’s. She was playing a woman in her sixties who is walking down a country road. A man who she knows from the near by village comes up to her an offers to help her with her bags. The conversation moves on and it eventually materializes that he has been in love with her for years and tells her this.

What is extremely interesting is that Leslie and the other actor were improvising throughout. Leslie had the choice as to whether she would accept or decline the man in the film. She declined him in the end which was very powerful having known her own personal history from watching her workshops.

I found this particular story in the film really moving. Leslie seemed extremely lonely in life. To see how method acting channelled that emotion into something that changed an ordinary person in an incredible actor was really astonishing.

What’s common throughout these three films is that they are all about people trying to make connections with one another. I had a conversation with one of my friends today who astutely noted; Julie, you’re not looking for a boyfriend, you’re looking for a connection’. Maybe it’s the three films channeling this frame of thought into my emotional being but I have to say my good friend’s statement may be something worth taking note of….


2 Responses to “Connections”

  1. Amy said

    This made me smile. Thanks!

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