The Dominance of Romance in Film and TV

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This was created out of bitterness. And before you argue that romanticism was an 1800s movement, I will now warn that romance as a term is used in this post as a shortcut for “romantic love”.

One of my former high school classmates, Jessica Marie Lagdaan (twitter here), after watching my highly recommended film and one of my favorites, The Shawshank Redemption (1994), insisted with such grave that Andy Dufrense (played by Tim Robbins), the protagonist, and Ellis “Red” Redding (played by our beloved Morgan Freeman) were gay for each other. I argued that Red was only “black” which was rather offensive.

I persisted that they were only good friends. She never believed me.

This kind of outlook is not new. In our Communication Theory class where our instructor tasked us to write an essay about one of the discussed theories (I chose Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory), I had passionately laid out my arguments about the dominance of romance in the world of cinema and TV. It cannot be denied that “romantic love” seems like an omnipresent theme in any movie or TV series ever made.

Say, a film about kindergarten students. Of course, the little boy will give flowers to this cute little girl who will then give him a kiss on the cheek because that’s cute, isn’t it? Say, a war film. Of course, the soldier will fall in love with the nurse. Or heck, with another soldier. Say, a film where everyone dies. Of course, at the end the carcasses of the boy and the girl are holding hands even after an atomic bomb has exploded, a wave of zombies has passed, and the earth’s crust has already collapsed into its mantle.

Duh. People like this shit. If the boyfriend likes action films and the girl wants to be with him so that they can have a quickie in the dark, cold cinema, slap in a scene with cheesy lines where the superhero kisses the beautiful girl. That covers her boredom. Romantic love is everywhere that people often mistake friendship as dependent on this. Again, Shawshank.

Recently I have seen this wonderful, beautiful, heartfelt film called Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Sundance winner!). Starring Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler and Olivia Cooke respectively, this movie is not only about death. It is much more than that, in a warm and pillow-fuzzy kind of way that you should not masturbate to *pop* (get this after you watch the film). This movie is based on the novel of the same title by Jesse Andrews, who also wrote the screenplay.

By the way, the cinematography is epic and cool and the mini-films are awesome (check out the header image).

by Fresh Movie Trailers

Cooke, Mann and Cyler on the set of the scene where the two boys are accidentally on drugs.

The real gem that is treasure in this film is its apparent diversion and distancing from the typical coming-of-age, young-adult, book-based movies (that seem so popular now, are they) such as It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), and all others John Green. You would think that Rachel (Cooke) and Greg (Mann) are ever going to kiss or say they love each other as they touch faces. They do not however, even if Greg recognizes that he feels it, and it is somehow refreshing and beautiful. The story relies more on the usually downplayed themes of friendship and losing friends, and less making out or having sex with a girl who has cancer.

Cultivation Theory discusses the long-term effects of movies and TV shows and how they affect our worldview. I am guessing it is never our fault but the mainstream cinema that spoon-fed us with this specific and limited view on “love” that we ought to believe it is all that there is. But if we try to look around we will see that love is not just one thing. Love could be anything and so many things and they would all mean the same.

Thanks for skimming, Alexandre Dumas!

Movies Roundup: Disturbing and Gross

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Over the time, when I have the chance, I will be posting my own reviews of the movies I have watched within a week and pretend you are interested.

Some movies that I will be reviewing here are ages old, some are recent, and some came out a few years ago, but movies are movies and they last a long time, especially with μTorrent being available—if you know what I mean.

I’ve watched 3 films this week (because of the three-day vacation—Teachers’ Retreat. Thanks, AdNU!), all of them controversial. Two of them were suggested by Smoke Street buddy Harold, and the other one intrigued me after my Philosophy instructor, Mr. Loquias, related the movie in our class discussion.

1. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

images from Wikipedia

movie poster from Wikipedia

What: This Italian-French art film is very controversial, gross and naked! Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini filled the film with overwhelming nudity, torture and feces.

This has been listed by many critics as one of the most horrifying and controversial films that has ever come to life.

From the title itself, you could guess how much anal sex has been incorporated in the film, so good luck.

Most Disturbing Scene: SPOILERS! One really disturbing scene here, aside from all the sex and nudity, is when they ate shit. Hyuck!

I Guess: I don’t actually get it. I guess it has a deeper meaning. The movie is about fascist leaders and prostitutes who steal several young boys and girls from their unknowing families and are then tortured through sexual and physical harassment (most of them killed). This film is probably a metaphor for the unbearable and repulsive way of ruling of the fascists and how they just literally fuck everyone up..and make them eat shit…and have anal sex with them…or something.

My Take: The film is bombarded with disturbing and gross scenes that it makes you forget (or gets itself lost in) the plot. The organization of the plot is somehow a blur to me (maybe because I’m stupid?) and nothing makes sense having all the nudity and shit (literal shit). It is confusing, revolting and somehow fulfilling if you dared to finish the whole thing.

The director was allegedly homosexual, so I guess that explains all the anal sex?

Well, it’s an art film, and we ain’t supposed to get it!

(IMDb, RottenTomatoes)

2. A Serbian Film (2010)

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movie poster from Wikipedia

What: This obviously Serbian film is a story of a once reputed (because he has a huge, omni-hard dick) porn actor Miloš, who is given an opportunity by a passionate filmmaker, Vukmir, to do art film (aka porn, btw). He discovers that the art film is going to be harder than he thought (pun intended).

Most Disturbing Scene: SPOILERS! I am only half-disturbed by these scenes, unlike most people who couldn’t sleep the first time they saw it (Harold), and that is weird. The grossest scene was when Miloš was drugged and began fucking his own son (like 10 years old, I guess he was drugged too) in the ass! He was bleeding.

I Guess: As explained by director and writer Spasojević and Radivojević, the film is a parody of Serbian cinema—which they dubbed as boring. I guess it isn’t now!

My Take: The film is very comparable to Memento—the lead actor’s confusion to whatever has happened to him and the coming back of the memories from the clues around him makes the plot a little checkered.

I expected a lot of disturbing scenes, but found only a few and some are badly executed (like the newborn scene) which ruin the desired effect. Although a little daring, we always see these movies end up with psychotic twists which are rather cliché. The good thing about this film is the use of symbols to make the next events familiar (like the grey car that picks up Miloš) and the wicked camera angles and direction.

(IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes)

3. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

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movie poster from Wikipedia

What: A German thriller about a man with a great olfactory sense and how he wants to preserve smell—of women.

From the title itself, the dude becomes a psychotic murderer just because he wants to create the best perfume in the world.

Most Disturbing Scenes: These scenes did not disturb me, but most people have been. The scenes of killing the women for their scent are very unusual and crazy. And that orgy halfway through the end…what the fuck?

My Take: I like the cinematography, its narration style and the visuals. It is a fantasy-period film, which helped in making the costumes and places visually stunning and attractive, in a dark way. The lead actor Ben Whishaw was a little disappointing and lacked a few in his supposedly creepy kooky behavior that instead turned into a boring, sad, protagonist. But the others like Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman (aka Professor Snape) helped give glory into the film. The story has potential, except that the film has fell short in its storytelling and in the sense of the plot. Mostly likeable film for psycho-thriller film lovers, but not overall impressive.

(IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes)

giphyThat’s All

Don’t agree with the reviews? Comment below to insult me! I would love to hear from you.

Images [and some info] brought to you by: Wikipedia, the free and untrusted encyclopedia. I love it!

Thanks for not reading, illiterate human!