28 February 2013

Dispatches from the !f Festival

One of the unexpected delights of living in Ankara turns out to be masses of film festivals. This weekend, it's the !f festival, and so I'm looking forward to spending the next few days watching loads and loads of movies. I got off to an excellent start today with:

Frances Ha
I was hesitant, because it's a Noah Baumbach movie, and I really did not like The Squid and the Whale, but I was willing to give it a go. And I'm glad I did. It's a sweet and surprisingly restrained film about Frances, a young woman who is trying to find herself and kind of making a mess of things. Fortunately, while the movie follows her through some pretty ridiculously bad decisions, there's nothing profoundly tragic or awful. Her life isn't ruined, she's going to be ok, and the vague sense of dread you feel gradually dissipates as the film goes on. Really though, it's a movie about the love shared by this woman and her best friend, and it does a really wonderful job with that. My friend Colleen and I were talking about it afterwards and she brought up Bridesmaids, and indeed, much like that movie, one of the great things about this one is how it manages to truthfully depict the kinds of conversations women have with each other - which is just not something you see all that often. The movie isn't quite a probing inquiry into the dynamics of BFF love - it sort of dips into the problem of jealousy and friends vs lovers, and whether that kind of friendship can work between men and women, but it doesn't launch a full-on investigation. But I liked it. Next up was

Laurence Anyways
Oh man. This was such a sweeping, gorgeous movie. It clocks in at 2 1/2 hours, and yes it must be admitted, the last half hour drags and sort of can't bring itself to end, but I loved the first two hours so much that I didn't really mind. I was completely swept up into it, with it's big, loud passions and beautiful shots and dramatic music. So much FEELING. The movie follows the story of a couple that is madly in love (a slightly less wild couple than the one in this music video, which I have to admit, despite my many issues with the ways in which she chooses to present herself in media these days, I just adore), and then Laurence announces that he wants to become a woman, and things get rocky. Big time. They love each other so hard, and they struggle so hard, and it is gut-wrenching and powerful. I was right there with it, though my friends found it over the top. Perhaps partly because of the thematic similarities, but also because of the visual and auditory aesthetic, it also reminded me of this music video, which I also love.* Anyways, it's a flawed film, but a wonderful one - definitely recommended.

*And here I need to credit my friend Luis, who did this fascinating series of blogposts on straight-transgender encounters in music videos that you should totally read.

No comments: