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Archive for October, 2009

1950s Repression in Cairo Station

by Kathleen Segna

Cario Station is a film noir set in a train station, which unveils the social economics of the Egyptians. The film reflects the repression of the bottom-feeder workers and the sexual frustration of the 1950s era.

Qinawi the retarded social misfit, is the main character that exemplifies the madness of his societal role. Qinawi is sexually frustrated and is voyeuristic, which leads him into social troubles. He gets beaten for ogling a woman who calls out for help. A lot of close up shots of his eyes are cut with close ups of women or women’s body parts. He carries with him cut outs of pin ups, and his homely pad is decorated with these magazine rip outs. His sexual frustration becomes worse when he becomes obsessed with Hanuma, who is the “Marilyn Monroe” for the Egyptian Cinema. Her over-sexualized character makes Qinawi go mad to the point of no return. He is like Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchocock’s “Psycho”—the two characters are relatable in that their desire for women takes a deadly toll. Hanuma–the objectified sexual desire of the 50s playing the “Marilyn Monroe” role of sexual freedom–shows how the 1950s era was not ready for such a taboo subject, which was probably why “Cario Station” was banned.

 

Cairo Station

By Mashiho Torrance

Cairo Station is an interesting film because it depicts Cairo, Egypt during a transitional stage.  A major theme within the film is Cairo’s “westernization,” and evidence of this can be seen throughout the film.  The selling of soda pop, increased female sexuality, and various western popular imagery (mainly in the form of magazine cutouts and billboard signs).  In one scene, passengers dance to westernized music as the “soda pop lady” (one of the main characters) hands out refreshments to passengers on a train.

In contrast to this, there is a scene where the main character (the cripple) is scolded by a traditionally dressed middle-aged woman for simply looking at her.  This film deals with pent up sexual frustration in the Muslim world, and how westernization exposes these men to an aspect of life which had previously been hidden from them.  A constantly recurring image is a close-up shot of the cripple’s eyes, intensely gazing at something he knows he cannot have.

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Salvation Hunters

By Mashiho Torrance

Salvation Hunters is a film about faith.  Faith in the world, faith in the future, but primarily faith in one’s self.  Does religious faith also have a place in this film?  At first glance one might think so.  In the dilapidated apartment room in which the three protagonists stay, the words “God bless our home” hang on the wall.  On a boarded up door on the street, the words “Jesus saves” are painted on a plank of wood.  An obvious reference to demons/the devil is made apparent when the pimp stands in front of ox horns mounted on the wall, creating the illusion that he is a beast.

What does this all mean?  If one notices, all religious references only appear in scenes that take place within the city.  Has God truly blessed that dilapidated apartment? Does God truly save the beggars and orphans on the streets?  Towards the end of the film, all of the main characters take a trip to the countryside, where “Dreams can come true.”  Here, the main male protagonist, “the boy”, conquers his “demons” by physically beating the shit out of the literal “demon” of the film (the pimp).  Instead of relying on God or religion to solve his problems, he gathers up the courage to solve them himself.  In nature, survival is totally dependant on self reliance.

Salvation Hunters’ Literal Uphill Struggle

By Kyle Wyant

Salvation Hunters follows the story of three young characters, heavy with the burdens of life, as they try to rise out of their world of mud to the land of the sun. This uphill struggle, represented quite literally throughout the film, serves as the adhesive binding the entire narrative together. The boy, eager to better himself, braves a comically large ladder, desperate to pull himself out from his surroundings. Unfortunately he is denied access as he reaches the top and is forced to climb back down into the world of mud. Later, after meeting a seemingly good-hearted businessman, the trio follows him into his home, hopefully striding up a long staircase. However, a fact that our travelers didn’t notice was that they were leaving behind the light and climbing into the darkness; a clever trick by the evil businessman. Finally, as the film reaches its finale, the band of characters scale a large dirt wall, up to a beautiful field promising happiness and the fulfillment of dreams. After literally dragging the businessman up the wall, the boy is forced to throw him back down, into his world of mud, leaving the trio in their land of the sun.

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Nati Baratz ‘s “Unmistaken Child”

A ten-minute essay by Paula Gaetano Adi

Observing rather than explaining the ancient traditions, the film follows a young Tibetan Buddhist monk whose life’s mission is to find the reincarnation of the legendary Geshe Lama Konchog.

The film itself is an act of faith, and so, works as some kind of experiment for our western rational minds. Who can believe that just by following some unclear and diffuse clues someone can find the reincarnation of a deceased person?

one. abduction. Post-cremation signs indicate the Buddha would likely return, reincarnated as a child: the direction of the smoke, the white pearls and a foot-print in the ashes.

two. deduction. A Taiwanese astrologist predicts the child should be one-and-a-half-year-old boy, living in a place starting with the syllable TS and whose father’s name begins with an A. In the remote Tsum Valley, the monk found a boy that recognizes Geshe Lama’s prayer rosary: the boy is about one year old and his father name is Alphe.

three. induction. In a Lamas’ meeting, they test the kid about six times. When presented with multiple items that belonged to Konchog, they asked the kid which objects belong to him: the right rosary, prayer bell, white scarf and hand drum were picked.

The new embodiment of the Geshe Lama was found. Whether we believe or not in reincarnation, when the film is finished, the question is installed in our skeptical minds.  Using our occidental way of reasoning, the film seems to use these three stages to at least shake and destabilize our rational unfaithful conceptions.

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Come Die for Mr. Jensen, Kids.

By Jenny Fine

You don’t believe in miracles, Mr. Jensen?  Well, that’s Swan Lake.

You remember the dying swan?

Come die for Mr. Jensen, kids.

Die for Mr. Jensen.

This movie, A Woman Under the Influence, is about death, not a literal death, but a metaphor, subduing, extinguishing, the blotting out of a woman’s emotions. The two most poignant scenes in this movie display two opposing conditions: freedom and restraint.  This movie set in the 1970s is much about American society in the 70s dealing with the other–the eccentric. Throughout the movie Mabel asks her family, do you think I’m crazy? To which the movie plot answers a resounding yes.

In this plot, Mabel is institutionalized, and when she returns home she tries to control her emotions–to not get too excited.  Yet, everything she does is wrong in her family’s eyes.  Nick takes her to the stairs and pleads with her to be herself, “say ba-ba, say ba-ba”– Mabel replying “I don’t understand what you want me to be.”  At the height of her confusion and frustration Mabel asks,

Dad, will you stand up for me?

No, Sit down, Dad.

Will you please stand up for me?

No, no sit down Dad.

A gesture with two meanings – as the scene evolves we realize that Mabel wants the support of her father and family, but also that gesture of him standing and sitting mimics the push and pull Mabel feels as she tries to conform to their expectations.  After this scene Mable goes to the couch and begins swaying and humming Swan Lake–an expression of freedom and escape from her reality. But also she sways as if to say, “Nick, I am dying for you.  Clap.  Say bravo.  I just died for you.“

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A Woman Under Instruction

By N.D. Eggert

A Woman Under the Influence is about a woman trying to be herself in a society that tells her exactly who to be.  Mable Longhetti is mother and wife and woman, with instructions for filling these roles.

Wife

Be a perfect hostess.  Smile and talk.  Not too loud, not too friendly, not too quiet.  Sit down.

Mother

Be a perfect nurturer.  You are the grown-up.  Feed them, care for them, they need you to be grown up. Protect them, and do not hurt them.  No emotions.

Woman

Be polite, and do not talk about that.  It is inappropriate.

Please, stand up.  Could you sit down?  Did you say anything?

Mable’s increasing eccentricity as she attempts to perform as instructed leads husband Nick to commit her.  After six months of electroshock, she returns quieted and still unsure what to do.  Again she is instructed:

“BE YOURSELF!”

Nick yells at his broken Mable.  But who is that self she was never allowed to be?  She tries being friendly at a breakfast party, but her hospitality crosses boundaries.  She makes up for lashing out at her children by throwing an after-school party seemingly out of control.  At last she is sent away.

In her absence, Nick seems to go crazy himself.  What is madness? An inability to cope with a life you did not choose, or the inability to control the one you did?  These are the questions surrounding Nick and Mable.

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Below are posted three very short essays produced by students in the undergraduate seminar on Wexner Media Arts screenings. These three essays were the best of some twenty essays written without notes in five minutes at the beginning of the first class meeting after the Wexner screening of the Turkish film, Three Monkeys, by Nuri Bilge Celon. Comments by students in the class and by the general public are welcome. Comments by the general Wexner audience are especially welcome. Here are the essays:

History of Art 500

“Three Monkey’s” – written observation

By: David C. Murphy

“In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice follows a mysterious white rabbit into a rabbit hole to enter ‘Wonderland’, an absurd and improbable world inhabited by many strange characters.  By extension the term, has come to signify any event, which triggers a completely unexpected situation.” – Wikipedia 2009

The film, “Three Monkeys”, consists of a series of events that begin by passing or looking through a defined space or object only to end up in situations of despondency. The movie begins as Servet, a politician on the eve of the elections, drives tiredly through the night down a dark, wet and narrow road.  The camera shot follows just behind the car’s boot, then abruptly stops, as we watch the car continue into a tunnel of light that its headlights attempt to create until it is consumed by darkness.  It is at this moment that this man has entered his “rabbit hole”, a spiraling road of cause and effect that would eventually lead to his demise.

We soon realize that the politician had fallen asleep at the wheel and tragically hits and kills an innocent person.  Realizing that this horrifying event would ruin his chances of being elected to office, he hastily calls his driver, Euyp, to meet him.  As Euyp leaves his home we see him pass through a dark tunnel filled with flecks of dancing light as a train passes above.  This would turn out to be one tunnel Euyp had wished he never entered, for it too would only lead to tragedy.

Later in the film, after Euyp had gone off to prison for confessing to Servet’s crime in exchange for money, Euyp’s son, Ismail, unexpectedly comes home sick and hears a bit of shuffling and laughter in his mother’s bedroom.  With shock and fear in his eye’s, Ismail quietly tip toes over to his mothers door, then slowly bends down and looks into the keyhole; an event that would for ever change all of their lives.

Knowing that Euyp and Ismail are getting suspicious, Servet sets up a meeting with Euyp’s wife, Hacer, in order to break off their affair.  As she races down the hillside to meet Servet, she runs into a stone wall where she must pass thru a small doorway leading to a lookout over the sea where he waits; again the passing through.  The scene finally ends from the vantage point of an onlooker hiding behind some trees peeping through a hole in the branches and leaves in order to witness the indefinite truth of what has been taking place.  It had been Ismail, who would go on to kill Servet and thus create yet another unimaginable consequence to an act of having gone or looked through something which would forever change everything.

 

Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Three Monkeys

Essay by

Paula Gaetano Adi

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” in order to achieve wisdom, but also, to protect ourselves from suffering: that seems to be the metaphor behind Ceylan’s “Three Monkeys” film.

In a very hot and stifling environment, the crucial parts of the film are implicit. Ceylan’s characters are predestined to live consequences rather than actions.

There is an accident, a dead child, a murder, an infidelity, an illness, a secret agreement but none of it happens on-screen.

There is a lot “unsaid”, connoted. The characters do not say anything, like the monkey covering his mouth. Thus, the viewers are not able to see or hear; the central actions of the film remained in an off-scene space. And so -I wonder- is Ceylan assigning to the viewers the place of being the monkeys covering the ears and eyes?

 

Three Monkeys

By Katisha Hernandez

“Three Monkeys” brings to my mind the saying “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”  And in this film the audience ‘sees no evil’; the two deaths in this movie happen off-screen.  Servet, the politician, makes sure no one hears of his evil doing by paying Eyüp, his driver, money to take the blame and also keep to quiet what really took place.  The path of this hush money is something I find interesting in the storyline of this film.  The money starts off in the hands of a corrupt politician and is promised to his driver.  When the driver’s wife asks the politician for an advance, more evil ensues, in the form of an affair.  Later the money is given to the son so he can start his life, but when he sees his mother begging the politician not to leave her, he is enraged and murders the politician.  Finally, the father offers the hush money to his friend who lives at a tea house, with the condition that he will take the blame for the politician’s murder.  This lump sum of money, in a way, drives the plot and precedes many of the evils that occur in this film.

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