Monday, February 28, 2011


Lolita was a very intense read; it’s not that the literature was above my abilities but the story of tainted love ruining a man’s life almost seemed too contrived for shock value. Humbert is a character that becomes easily transfixed with love or rather infatuation with younger girls and his description of the need and want to be with them seems almost creepy, which I suppose could be a prelude to the deaths to come. The girls, or nymphets as he calls them tempt him in a way that is hard to resist and Humbert knows that wanting them is wrong but he can’t seem to help it.

It never seems to be Humbert’s fault when something occurs but rather the blame is directed to another person, most often a woman. I feel like the gist of this novel is Humbert blaming the women in his life for the misfortunes he suffers. His mother passes away when he is very young, from all things she dies from being struck by lightning. He uses her death as an excuse to behave the way he does, he doesn’t feel as if he needs to be moral since he was never taught right from wrong. His mother’s sister, his aunt attempted at rasing him but once again the blame and wrongdoings that he does, he justifies because he never received the loving he deserved.

In class the discussion of love came up briefly and I argued that what Humbert is experiencing is infatuation not love. Why else would he tire of Annabel or other young girls… once they grow past their prepubescent stage he needs to find the newest thing. Out of all of his relationships, his desire for Lolita lasted the longest and the fact that he could not obtain the goal of having her made it even harder for him to find a new love. He grew obsessed over somethi g he could not truly have. He definitely seems to be blaming women for something he cannot posses, love.

At the beginning of Lolita, in the forward John Ray Jr says, " “Lolita” should make all of us—parents, social workers, educators—apply ourselves with still greater vigilance and vision to the task of bringing up a better generation in a safer world.

" I chose this quote to discuss because of it's utter ridiculousness... after learning that there is no John Ray Jr this statement doesn't seem like a warning but rather another excuse. I also receive the feeling that this quote was written to reassure that there is a moral to this story. Or at best, the story could be justified. And if anything the novel was written more poetically and for love than for a psychologist.

The Piano- Screenplay

The Piano (1993)

Cast suggestions: I have not yet seen The Piano but I did just order it from Netflix so I’m very excited to actually get to see what I read. That being said I didn’t get to see how Holly Hunter played Ada McGrath, but I do know her from other films. Her face is extremely expressive, which the character needs to be since she cannot speak.

I picture Cate Blanchett taking on the role of Ada. Her face is very stoic and she is able to play a variety of roles. Not to mention the fact that she was made for period pieces and The Piano is definitely one! As far as her acting abilities are concerned I think she would be perfect for the part… especially after seeing her in Elizabeth. The only problem as far as a physical standpoint would be that Blanchett is tall and Ada is described as being stunted… but I’m sure there would be ways to mask that through cinematography.

For Ada’s daughter, Flora I immediately saw a young Kirsten Dunst! Seeing her in Interview with the Vampire makes the choice a sound one. She can play very powerful roles and seems mature on film. Just like when she played Claudia I think she could make Flora very witty and almost manipulative.

As far as director notes, I think Jane Campion should have incorporated more information concerning the atmosphere to a shot/scene. When Stewart and Baines are walking up with the native people from New Zealand it seems very abrupt and choppy. Instead of showing the mother and daughter in their makeshift tent and then going to another shot of the men walking towards the beach I would maybe have a shot from inside the tent showing the silhouette of people’s legs and feet. I feel like the two worlds should definitely be integrated.

On occasion there was a note suggesting piano music to be playing in the background. I would keep this suggestion but have it be more involved in the story. Since Ada cannot speak music could be played over her signing to her daughter.

Themes: In the beginning of the screenplay I found out that Ada is having an arranged marriage. I would have loved to see more/read more about Ada and her daughter’s life back in their native country. I also have to admit that I thought it was very strange that her father was setting her up for marriage after she has already been married and had a daughter with her late husband. Since it doesn’t seem like a very realistic subject (especially during the Victorian times) it should have some supporting scenes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Auteurship: Jane Campion films

I must admit that when I saw the term “auteurship” I was a bit confused as to what it meant. My searches kept leading me to the definition of an author, which as it turns out is perfectly correct. The Auteur theory in relation to being an author is the way in which all of their work is categorized. For instant with some directors, their films are easily recognizable… even without knowing the director initially.

At random I chose to watch a Jane Campion film, most likely because the name was female! I feel like I really lucked out with my sporadic choice because I loved her film, Bright Star. I’m easily won by period pieces and she has refined the art. This particular film focused on the love affair between the famed poet, John Keats and his muse, Fannie Brawne. It was beautifully tragic with the underlining story and they way Campion filmed it. I was aware that one of the two main characters would be stricken with an illness or somehow parish but even with that knowledge Campion still crushed my hope that, somehow everything would be okay. I’m very American in my thinking that every ending should be a positive one but the director, who’s Australian, ended the film with a tragic death. It’s very hard for me to define a movie as being good when the ending does not carry the best outcome. Campion, however, tied in delicate notes of love throughout her film and everything from the shots to the acting was poetic. In that sense the film was perfect because it matched the topic of 19th century romantic poetry which Keats’ is known for. The title of the film itself is named after his famed poem which illustrates a devote love to Ms. Brawne.

I have also begun the film An Angel at My Table by the same director. It, like the first film I watched is also extremely emotionally charged. The film, also about a famed poet, Janet Frame, shows the natural pitfalls that life may have. Frame, however, seemed to have more than average with her awkward tendencies which turned into antisocial behavior. This behavior, although not normal was not psychotic. Frame ends up being misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and suffers years of physical and mental torture for being different. So far in the film it’s become apparent the Campion focuses on unbalanced characters. Keats suffered as an artist and with love. He could not overcome either during his life… in order to be a proper husband to Ms. Brawne he needed wealth and stability; by nurturing his love for Brawne he did not focus on his writing entirely. Both him and Brawne were isolated characters until they met one another. Brawne, herself only gave fashion her attention and therefore her relationships other than her immediate family did not exist. As for Janet she is a loner in every since. She is not too close with her family and her peers have no respect for her. It’s through her tragedy that her talents become apparent. This is the theme that Campion has perfected.

For my third film I have ordered The Piano, which I’ve heard about prior to knowing the director.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hairspray, 1988

Situations Of A Film

I’m sure that this is not the best film ever made or even the director’s best film but John Waters’ Hairspray has always seemed like a classic to me. From the first time I saw this as a child I was attracted to the grittiness and odd humor that is the genetic makeup for the movie. There’s something about this movie that’s perfectly sleazy and depicts teenagers so well. But… let’s face it; the movie would be nothing without Devine. This was the first Waters’ film that I ever saw and after seeing the creature that is Devine I had to follow Waters’ muse throughout his work.

History of the Genre:

The movie is classified as a comedy but I feel like it has a less commercial approach to getting laughs. There aren’t very many gimmicky lines or a moment in which you feel the need to wait for the laugh track. I would say the humor is almost a parody of the early 1960s, laughing at the obvious subject matters (race, discrimination, hair, and acute sexuality) and using the characters to develop a rich comedy.

Out of all Waters’ films this is the tamest in every way. The humor is still a little more natural than other comedies but Hairspray is definitely the most seen of any Waters’ movie. It also received the lowest MPAA rating out of all the movies Waters directed, being PG while most of his films are R, MC-17, and even X.

Economics of the Film:

The budget of Hairspray is said to be about about $2,000,000, which is relatively low. But for Waters it’s one of the pricier films he’s made. At the box office it made $577,287 the opening weekend. For 1988 that is the most lucrative number but this is one of the few Waters’ films that made it “wide stream”.