Irish Film Studies: 32A

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for 32A (week 11).

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Marian Quinn’s 32A was not the only film we saw in class depicting teenagers’ life. It also was the case for Hush-a-Bye Baby and Disco Pigs. However, this one is not as dark as the previous one and is, let’s say, more “ordinary” (not necessarily in a bad way). The fact that the main characters are actually young teenagers (and not almost adults like it is the case for the two other films’ characters) adds a certain aura of innocence and childishness.

Narratively, there’s nothing quite extraordinary about the film. I enjoyed it, but it’s the typical teenager movie story. A young schoolgirl tries to find her place in the social world. She has friends who reject her at one point, but, in the end, they become friends again. There’s the cute rebel boy (but, however, their relationship is abruptly ended). The girls have problems in their family. You know, these are the typical elements someone would expect from a teen movie. What is interesting though, is the fact that this film is not only a teen movie, but it was also made for a young teen audience. Thus, it might be easier for teens to identify with the characters more than it would be the case for Hush-A-Bye Baby for example, which adopts much more mature themes and might be understood better by an older audience.

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It’s interesting how, in her text on the female Bildungsroman (a coming of age story genre), Ellen McWilliams informs us that this literary genre was first not seen well by feminists for “its often unapologetic investment in masculine, bourgeois ideologies.” (1) However, the female Bildungsroman gives a new breath of freshness to the genre as it is explained by McWilliams and became a new form of expression for women. (2) Well, 32A proves it right as the story is seen from a girl’s point of view and, interestingly, it’s the ladies in this film that are the most well developed. There’s nothing very concluding about, let’s say, Jean’s father or her “boyfriend”. However, that’s in a way not so good as it somehow neglects the relationship between the male and female characters in the film or, more precisely, their development.

Aesthetically, the film has some beautiful images that add some visual poetry to it and make it agreeable to watch. The day scenes are very luminous, but not aggressive for our eyes, while the night scenes feature beautiful sky images.

32A is not a revolutionary nor an impressive film, but I enjoyed it and this type of films is sometimes good to see too, to prove us that life, even in movies, can be just normal!

On an aside note, I give this film many bonus points for featuring songs by my musical idols Blondie (Picture This) and David Bowie (Boy Keep Swinging)! These were, for me, the amazing parts of the film.

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Words: 480

Source:

(1) McWilliams, Ellen. “The Coming of Age of the Female Bildungsroman.” Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 0.1-12

(2) Ibid.

Images sources

“A still from Marian Quinn’s Film 32A.” Archives of Irish America, Sep. 30, 2011, https://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/aia/collections/ihoral/quinnm/quinnm.php.

“32A.” Institut Canadien du Film, Nov. 26, 2009, http://www.cfi-icf.ca/index.php?option=com_cfi&task=showscreening&id=248.

Irish Film Studies: The Crying Game

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for The Crying Game (week 10).

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It’s a funny coincidence that we watched The Crying Game on week 10 as I had just recently watched a video where the film was mentioned. I had never seen it before, but this movie poster with a lady looking like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (film made AFTER The Crying Game) was one that had a mysterious appeal and, to me,  and an aura of mystery just the way I like it.

The film is one that didn’t disappoint me. I have to say, I think it’s one of my favourite ones we watched in class. The subject of transsexuality is one that is not often exploited in cinema,so this film remains a significant one on that level. On this subject, what we could call the situation reversal is something that is significant in The Crying Game. I’ll explain. The relations between the characters definitely are an important element of this film. When Fergus (Stephen Rea) discovers that the beautiful Dil (Jaye Davidson) is, in fact, a man, his reaction (throwing up) is the most shocking element of the situation. But, as the film advances, Fergus manages to see the situation from another angle as he is, despite all, still attracted by Dil. So, it’s interesting to see how this element of the plot is developed in a favourable light (to a certain point).

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Aesthetically, the film remains a very special one by borrowing touches of film noir as the smoky poster à la femme fatale proves it. But, as it is not a black and white film, the colour cinematography is used to its full potential, with images that sometimes almost like paintings. This colour becomes particularly majestic, thanks to Dil’s sparkling costumes. There’s also something about this colourful cinematography (and the subject of transsexuality) that also made me think a bit of Almodovar movies.

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Despite its mainly dramatic background, there are some touches of humour in The Crying Game that are agreeably appreciated and make the film less heavy. Of course, it is far from being a comedy, but this scene where Dil throws the aquarium of her ex-lover by the window doesn’t fail to make us laugh.

Now, one last thing I wonder: why is this film called The Crying Game? Sure, Dil sings the song of the same name at one point of the film. But wouldn’t there be a deeper meaning? Could it evoke the sadness of the characters? There are probably many possibilities.

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Words: 410

Image sources

Gracenote, ” Movie Photo: The Crying Game.” Cineplex, 2015, https://www.cineplex.com/Movie/the-crying-game/Photos.

“The Crying Game.” Coral Gables Art Cinema, n.d, http://www.gablescinema.com/events/the-crying-game/.

“The Crying Game.” Roger Ebert.com, n.d, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-crying-game-1992.

Irish Film Studies: Hunger

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Hunger (week 9).

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Hunger was a film on the program that I longed to see since it was directed by Award Winner movie director Steve McQueen (not to confuse with the star of The Towering Inferno and The Great Escape). I hadn’t seen any of his movies before, not even 12 Years a Slave. Dear!!! Well, we had to start somewhere and Hunger was the initiator.

That film made me very uncomfortable, but I think it was meant to be. So, I can positively say he succeed in his task. The film is a one that visually disturbs the viewers by using very crude violence and images of a jail with terrible living conditions. If you feel a bit sick watching those images, you are not the only one.

29 Hunger (2008)

There’s something quite clever about this film and that resides both in its aesthetic and narrative aspects. Hunger is an HONEST movie. It doesn’t try to embellish the reality. Of course, all realities are not horrible like the one inside this Irish jail, but life isn’t a bed of roses either. We could definitely call this type of films anti-Hollywood movies. The actors are also terribly convincing, it’s somehow hard to say if they are only acting or if they are truly hurt or hurting people. Of course, a movie is a movie, but how many times have we heard that some movies were physically and mentally hard to shoot? I’m pretty sure it was the case for Hunger.

Now, did I like Hunger? Well, no… I recognize its brilliance for the reasons I’ve already mentioned, but, I honestly prefer movies that are more a form of escapism and this one is far from being one. I’m someone who has always loved beautiful things. On-screen violence can be beautiful depending on how it is executed. But it’s not the case for Hunger. This film is honest but cruel.

Do I want to see more McQueen’s film now? Well, I’m still curious to see 12 Years a Slave one of these days, but let’s say it wasn’t love at first sight with Hunger.

And now, I’m ironically hungry!

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Words: 351

Images sources

Becker Films International, ” Hunger: affiche Michael Fassbender.” Allo Cine, Oct. 15, 2008, http://www.allocine.fr/film/fichefilm_gen_cfilm=115096.html.

“Hunger (2008).” A Film a Day, Nov. 26, 2014, http://afilmadaybysonia.blogspot.ca/2014/11/hunger-2008.html.

Irish Film Studies: Nora

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Nora (week 8).

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Nora, a 2000’s film by Pat Murphy, is related to an important figure in Irish history:  writer James Joyce. However, the film mainly focuses on his wife Nora Barnacle, what obviously explains the title. Just like our week on Hush-a-Bye-Baby, we were here interested in the portrayal of women in films. This one, however, is set much sooner, in the early 20th century. Pat Murphy’s film depicts Laura as a deeply interesting woman, free in spirits, an avant-gardiste feminist. During our class discussion, we’ve been asked if we thought Nora would have had any recognition if she wouldn’t have been the wife of James Joyce. Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Yes, she is presented to us as a beautiful, intelligent,  interesting woman, but, however, I believe these qualities were unfortunately not used at their full potential. She, yes, somehow could have been an inspiration to women of her generation and the ones to follow, but, as she didn’t accomplish anything concrete, well, she’s, unfortunately, the type that could have been forgotten soon.

What was very interesting about Nora’s character was to see how she lived with her sexuality and, for a woman of her time, seemed quite comfortable with it. You know, we always have this tendency to think that every woman who didn’t live the sexual revolution of the 60s had the tendency to be very shy and prude concerning this subject. Well, Nora proves the opposite! Of course, it remains a fiction film and not a documentary, but at least it gives us a good preview (especially for someone like me who didn’t know anything about Nora Barnacle).

The depiction of James Joyce in this film was an interesting one as the director chose mainly to focus on him as a man more than as an author. This was relevant as it allowed us to understand better his relation with Nora.

Nora is not a masterpiece, but certainly is an interesting film. Giving a place of choice to women in culture is always something I prioritize and movies like this help to contribute to this task.

Before leaving you, there’s one last thing I’ve got to say: I think Ewan McGregor has an adorable smile!!

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Words: 367

Image sources

“Nora.”Movie Roulette, n.d, http://movie-roulette.com/movie/nora.

“Ohh a game! a game!” Everyday Should Be a Holiday, Jan. 31, 2010, http://norrasims.livejournal.com/2346.html.

 

Top of the World: Bette Davis, Gregory Peck and Spencer Tracy in Tops Five

April 5 is an important date on our calendar as three major movie stars were born on this day: Bette Davis, Gregory Peck and Spencer Tracy (and also Melvyn Douglas, Frank Gorshin and Walter Huston). To pay a tribute to them, I’ve decided to present you 3 little top 5 of 1- my favourite Bette Davis’ films, 2- my favourite Gregory Peck’s films and 3- my favourite Spencer Tracy’s films. These actors are all personal favourites and it’s been a long time since I haven’t post a traditional top list on this blog!

Remember that these are my personal choices, so thanks in advance for respecting them!

Bette Davis Top 5 Favourite Films

5- Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (Robert Aldrich, 1964)

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4- The Letter (William Wyler, 1940)

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3- Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942)

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2- All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

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1- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962)

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Gregory Peck Top 5 Favourite Films

5- The Big Country (William Wyler, 1958)

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4- Cape Fear (Martin Scorsese, 1991) – Yes, I do prefer the remake, even if Peck doesn’t have the leading role.

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3- To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962)

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2- Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945)

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1- Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)

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Spencer Tracy Top 5 Films

5- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Stanley Kramer, 1967)

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4- Father of the Bride (Vincente Minnelli, 1950)

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3- Woman of the Year (George Steven, 1942)

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2- Libeled Lady (Jack Conway)

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1- It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Stanley Kramer, 1963)

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Well, that’s that! Don’t hesitate to share your favourites!

A happy heavenly birthday to all these marvellous stars!