Friday, June 27, 2014

Just the rain

Noun; a lover of rain. 
Someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. 

It feels like fresh wet grass,

Water ponds like mirrors through the streets,

Wheels splashing everything.

It seems like blurred images through the big window

Through the light grey sky.

It seems like empty chairs at empty tables

Empty tables with empty chairs

Empty coffee houses, empty stores, empty cinemas, bookshops

Empty little streets with no asphalt

 But bricks and Christmas lights from one house to the other.

It sounds like Blue Moon and I'll Be Seeing You, like slow jazz,

 Like sweet Billie Holliday and graceful Norah Jones.

It's like English tea, Sunday mornings, cardigans and glasses

 Like Jo and Laurie, like a good-bye kiss.

Oh, magical lullaby, enchanted part of the day.

It's just like the simple tranquil rain.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The fault in our stars

Hazel Grace Lancaster - "I feel in love the way you fall asleep: slow, and then all at once."
So. Last year, around my best friend's birthday, I asked her what she would like me to get her for a present. She said I could buy her a book she was dying to read, called "The fault in our stars", by John Green. For me, it was something new, buying her a book. Of all the times I have been to a book shop, it was the first time that I actually bought her something from that place. She was the one who always bought presents for me. Anyway, I went to the book shop, bought it, and gave it to her.

Some weeks later, I asked her if the book was really good. She said she hadn't finished it yet because of test weeks. I, as a good determined and loyal reader, wanted to discover myself if the book was good. I purchased it, and practically lived in the story for the next two days. Yes, I can read much faster than my friend.

My body and soul felt everything through those 48 hours of pure John Green: I laughed, I cried, I jumped up with happiness, I was anxious, scared, I had goose bumps, I cried my heart out and fell completely, truly, deeply in love with the story and the characters. In partcular, I fell in love with Hazel Grace Lancaster and got mad with Augustus Waters. Maybe that's why I now compare every guy (or male character) I know to him. It's not my fault, blame John Green.

Then, after we both finished the book, my friend and I discovered there was going to be a movie of it. We went crazy. Seriously.

We searched for every  bit of information about the film, like cast, production, costumes... But I personally wasn't sure if it was going to be good. I mean, most adaptations of young adult books are badly made and are never true to the original novel. I was sure that this one would be just like the others.

Despite my reluctance about the script, I looked forward to the opening night. We bought our tickets the day the movie was released and waited for the big day (which was last Saturday, June 7th).

At the sound of Shailene Woodley's first line, my heart started to beat faster and faster. Yes, it turned out I was wrong about the adaptation. As soon as the room was dark, I realized something good was going to happen.

The three musketeers

Isaac – “But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without Augustus Waters.”
Hazel, Isaac and Gus. Shailene, Nat and Ansel. The relation between them? The three last ones are the actors who play the three main characters of the story. What's the difference between them? For me, none.
When I read the book, I thought nobody could ever be capable of performing these characters perfectly. But I didn't know these three amazing young actors (who I now idolize), Shailene Woodley, Nat Wolff and Ansel Elgort, existed. And now that I do, I can't imagine anyone better to play such nice characters.
That's probably why I love the scenes where the three are together, or the one scene in which Isaac is alone with Hazel. The chemistry of the three is unbelievable, and being friends behind the cameras helped a lot, I guess, especially for Ansel and Nat, who are besties.

Dramatic, romantic and funny.
Hazel Grace Lancaster – “You're always such a disappointment, Augustus. Couldn't you have at least gotten orange tomatoes?”
Everything I felt while reading the book I felt watching while the movie. And I mean EVERYTHING. The romantic scenes are the cutest, the dramatic are the saddest. But there was something I didn't think the movie would be able to make us do. Laugh. I laughed a lot while reading  the book, and thought that would be lacking on the big screen. It turned out I liked the funny parts in the film better than the written ones. And the way every line is said just makes the actors' performances greater and better.

Real story

All facts in the book make the story believable, true. It didn't really happen, but the way John Green wrote the setting, characters, situation, makes us feel like it could've been real. I mean, the characters aren't perfect, and neither is the story/ ending (actually, the end is far from perfect). It's not about cliché characters, cliché facts. Flaws related to Hazel, Gus and Isaac make them seem real. And I don't mean only their visible flaws, like Gus's mechanical leg and a blind Isaac. Inside too. That's what makes the story so perfect.

Broken Heart

Augustus 'Gus' Waters - "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt."
Okay, it’s all John Green’s fault. Really, during the whole book (and movie) it seems like he rips your chest, takes your heart out, stabs it, twists it, smashes it, grinds it and throws the remaining pieces out of the window. It’s scientifically impossible for you to leave the cinema without shedding a single tear. Even if you’re cold hearted, you’ll at least feel your heart squeezing inside of you. It sounds terrible, but it actually feels good, to let your emotions out. Especially when you fall in love.

With a character, a book, or a whole movie.

Or with all of the above.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The power of words

Calvin Weir - Fields - “One may read this and think it's magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, "That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination." I am no J.D. Salinger, but I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you.” 
- Ruby Sparks, 2012

I believe words have a certain power. I don’t mean bad words or good words, cursing or praising. I mean all the words, words in general.

I think everything descends form words, everything is made of them. And all the things in this world we call ours started with an idea, or a feeling, or an experience. And these ideas, feelings and experiences wouldn’t be distinguished or even known as so, without words to name them.

Historians say the greatest invention, what separates all of our time from pre-history is writing. I must say, I agree with them. There’s not a single invention that does not use writing of any type or size.

Books, for example, are what I believe to be the second greatest invention ever (actually, they are on par with cinema, but anyway…). I guess books (and stories in general can change our lives in a way nothing else does.

To imagine, feel and then realize what’s beyond comparisons, metaphors and metonymies is something only books (or screenplays) can make us do perfectly. That’s why I think we are (I mean, our psychological characteristics) made of words.

And that’s “Ruby Sparks”‘s biggest metaphor/ theme.

Calvin (Paul Dano) is a famous young novelist, out of ideas. He suddenly dreams about a girl, and writes it on paper. The idea becomes interesting for a book and he is so deeply connected and concentrated, that this girl, named Ruby Sparks (Zöe Kazan) becomes real. And it’s not the “in of his crazy mind” real, but real real.

They fall in love, but Calvin starts to change her, by writing it down. When Ruby realizes what he is doing, they fight, and Calvin lets her go.

It’s mainly a story about the amazingly graceful power of words. But we should always remember that too much power, of any kind, is no good. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

The improbable pair of Martin and Phil

Martin Sixsmith – “Shall we go for a walk? Get rid of the jet lag? You said you wanted to visit the Lincoln Memorial.” 
Philomena – “We could go and see Mr. Lincoln or we could watch on television 'Big Momma's House.' It's about a little black man pretending to be a fat black lady. They just showed some of it on the television and they'll all chasing after him. It looked hilarious, Martin!”
- Philomena, 2013

Philomena kept a secret for fifty years. She then revealed it to her daughter, who searched nonstop for someone to help her mother.

Philomena had a child, a boy, Anthony, in 1952. As she lived with the nuns, they obliged her to work and clean the church every single day, for having that child, but, fortunately, she could see him one hour a day. Until those nuns gave him up for adoption.

Phil’s daughter looked for Martin, who was unemployed, depressed and wasn’t looking for anything like Philomena’s story. He didn’t want to write about an old Irish woman with a titanium hip and a lost child. He just wanted to return to BBC. But after going to the church where she  lived , he wanted to help her find her Anthony.

They searched, searched and searched. Martin knew something was wrong, that the nuns were lying. Phil didn’t believe him. She thought their souls were too pure to lie.

Wrong. They were perfectly able to tell the pair that a big fire had destroyed all of the adoption papers and that just the one with her signature, agreeing to all of the nun’s terms, survived in the chaos.

They flew to Washington, saw Mr. Lincoln, had an amazing breakfast, met at least ten one-in-a-million people (or one-in-a-hundred-thousand), discussed about Phil’s reading (“Do you want to read it?” “No, thanks, I feel like I’ve already read this book”) and found out Anthony changed his name to Michael.
Philomena wants to know all about him, but Martin soon discovers he died of Aids eight years earlier. She then gives up everything, and decides to go back home.

But the ex-journalist couldn’t give up on such a story. He continued his search about Michael, and discovers that he had a boyfriend and a really important job at the White House. Philomena, now back in the search for, seems very proud of her little boy, whose last wish was to be buried at the church where his mother lived. It turned out he looked for her, and the nuns said there were no records of Philomena there.

Back in the UK, Martin and Phil return to the church. He explodes of anger when talking to the nun who lied to mother and son. After that, the nun apologizes to Philomena.

Philomena then searches for Michael’s grave, and when she finds it, mother and son are finally reunited.
Apart from the adoption conflict, the movie is a beautiful friendship story, of a middle-aged man and an old lady, each of them of a particular uncommon character. It is a strange pair, you know?

“Well, I didn’t see that coming, not in a million years”

There are improbable pairs everywhere. And there’s the improbable pair of Martin and Phil.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Smile, what's the use of crying?

"Charlie Chaplin - Nothing quite like it. The feeling of film.”  
- Chaplin, 1992

I have written and unwritten this text a thousand times before I posted it. I believe that every time we write about one of our favorite things, the text never seems perfect and all the words in the world never seem to be enough to describe the subject. Since movies are one of my favorite things, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to write the text about “Atonement”, with my favorite actress.

This one was definitely much more difficult. Besides the fact the movie of this text is in my top five and it is with my favorite actor, “Chaplin”, from 1992,  is the biography of one of the most talented, intelligent and influent man of the last century.

If you ask anyone about Charlie Chaplin, you’ll surely hear something about his silent black and white movies, Modern Times, The Great Dictator and his most famous character, the Tramp.

But there’s far more beyond the British actor who became famous in America. Chaplin once said: “If you want to understand me, watch my movies.”

The thing is, it only takes us a few minutes of watching his biography to realize how difficult his childhood was: no money, no father and an ill mother. Nevertheless, we see he lived every second of his life to the fullest, fell in and out of love many times, said what he thought, made the movies the way he wanted  and kept silent and black and white, even though no one else did that anymore until FBI exiled him.

“Life is a play that does not allow testing. So, sing, cry, dance, laugh and live intensely, before the curtain closes and the piece ends with no applause.”

Sadly, Chaplin was only gained recognition with an Oscar in 1972, 20 years after his exile and four years before he died.

For me, his one masterpiece isn’t a movie, but a composition for “Modern Times”, called “Smile”, from 1936.  After all, he always made (and still makes) his public smile, one way or another.

Smile, though your heart is aching 
Smile, even though it's breaking 
When there are clouds in the sky 
You'll get by...  
If you smile 
With your fear and sorrow 
Smile and maybe tomorrow 
You'll see the sun come shining through, for you 
 Light up your face with gladness 
Hide every trace of sadness 
Although a tear may be ever so near 
That's the time you must keep on trying 
Smile, what's the use of crying? 
You'll find that life is still worthwhile 
If you'll just smile 
 That's the time you must keep on trying 
Smile, what's the use of crying? 
You'll find that life is still worthwhile 
If you'll just smile.