A film intricately shot, as the life of Veronica, and then the life of Veronique, is reflected back and forth in a dreamlike and hypnotic way. Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique illustrates the power of unaffected beauty. It’s a pure and sentient film. It moves as you do, in time and feeling, just when you’re about to grasp the whole of its atmosphere and rhythm.
The film is like a reflection you’d see on a deep and translucent patch of water. And you want to lean in closer and closer and tap the almost-too-perfect surface until you realize that it’s perfect because it is still. A film that evokes such a sentimental canvas is a film that remains unforgettable. There’s no other way to understand it, but with profound love and empathy.
Love and empathy for the lives that live parallelly to our own. The faces we make up and shed and go back to and that, in the end, perish only because we evolve and the masks don’t fit anymore.
The film is about identity and becoming it. Which often collides with the possibilities of human destiny. What’s so cruel yet honest about this film is that we are only capable of loving others in our thoughts, feelings, desires, and fears. This is not because we’re made from the same star-stuff. But we carry within us all of nature’s vibrations and hues; intricate, boundless, and personal. And so we can never truly recognize others as they really are but only as we are. And in that, is loving and living, as we know it.
Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut forces you to imagine the unimaginable and allows such foreplay to solidify into ripples that often disturb a still surface. These ripples are made from the stuff of dreams, fears, desires, and fetishes. No matter how vehemently we deny such invisibles in life. Sometimes out of sadness, loneliness, ignorance, or fear. They are often celebrated in our subconscious and never deny to show up in dreams.
Eyes Wide Shut invents such a fable and as a film comprising of such profound and strong characters, it is fulfilling and cerebrally fictive. It illustrates how delusional, limited, and too ‘into our heads’ we can be. That our external surroundings become fragments of not an objective reality but a product of our own imagination and fancy. What we seek, we shall find.
Stanley Kubrick’s masterful stroke on a blank canvas is done in strikingly audacious colors. This film uses language and gestures in the most idiosyncratic manner. With ephemeral subplots like the pianist, the hooker, the daughter of the owner of the costume store, and Mandy, it gains its dreamlike personality as much from them as from the lives of William and Alice.
Where the mind uses reason and logic to curb the imagination. The imagination, too, has its own intellect and intuition. Eyes Wide Shut is the consummation of this abstraction of the self. And it often shoots up to the surface in symbols such as the face mask, drugs, money, Rainbow Fashions, William’s New York State Medical Board Card, and the Christmas trees.
To watch it is to unmask the repressed nature of human’s spiraling sexuality and desires. And how such impulses are often compromised because of what we think is good or bad for us.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is one such film that I’d love to deconstruct over and over again to watch it from different perspectives. The film reiterates the hidden layers of one’s cognitive functioning veiling the boundaries of emotions. It’s a spellbinding film intended to introduce the concept of Scientology to those totally unaware of it. The concept of the “knowing” of knowledge. As vague as that sounds, the film makes a good show of it.
The movie has plenty of cues – elements if you will – that demonstrate an idea or a consciousness. Such as the motorcycle, the sand sculpture, and the intoxicating scene where Freddie Quell is made to walk to and away from the glass window. The film is coarse, imaginative, and persistent. But is it real? That remains a mystery – a reflection of its own inevitable path.
The Master is experimental and profoundly attached to its personality – which is nothing short of inventive and extraordinary. To watch it is to see the universe in a flux of fears, desires, emotions, and feelings. The pull of consciousness that separates a dream from reality as soon as you are caught in a wake. But is that necessarily an awakening? This is where the depth of the sea of limitations of knowledge runs the deepest.
Watching Jean-Pierre Leaud as a young boy trapped between his defining moments with a friend and his duty as a son to detached and bleary parents is a journey. The film, Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, is about identity as much as it is about the extraction of one’s self from conditioned consciousness. The agony of growing up is painful but surviving it is even more harrowing.
The boy, Antoine Dionel, seeks a relationship which is fundamental for all those who appear to be. But who are these people? And do they or can they love and appreciate us in the way we’d want them to? Do we truly know how we want to be loved? Such questions often rise to the surface of the film and they sink back in again just when you think you know the answers.
To evolve – for instance – in ways as if one rebels and seeks strange yet stimulating experiences is feeling free, even for a day. But then you’re back to playing a role; into setting a table in which you’re nothing but the spitting image of the chair next to you. Is that the good life?
The film is told in detailed melancholy. It’s expressive, intelligent, and amusing. It’s at a crossroads between being a sad and poetically modern film. The kind that redeems itself with every scene, that is, if you’re willing to open yourself up to exploring new dimensions in a black and white film. Because it arrives with a strange longing to be seen and understood. And departs as being one of the greatest and purest films about searching for one’s true identity.
Do not enter this film knowing that you know. But you can exit knowing that what you know is never known. Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York is a film that punches you in the stomach but only that you’ll never feel it. It’s the manifestation of the absurdity of life essentially after all your fears have materialized. And that you’ve imagined them to have unraveled right in front of your eyes. That unraveling of suffering, pain, loneliness, and isolation is what the story is about.
The film creates a world in which the protagonist, Caden, is impenetrable. His is a language that exists more in being understood rather than being spoken. And to accept that your fear is the only constant that runs with you. And that the ephemerality of shared togetherness is never really shared, to begin with, is profoundly ethereal and comforting.
The film does one hell of a job at playing a part of life that is philosophical – as being an unapologetic driving force. That consumes those who are not averse to it. And discards those who are. This philosophy as a way of life demands more as a whole than its fragments. This is to say that the film demands the “you” that is true and real.
To watch it is to never truly grasp the measure of the sincerity of existence. The film’s inevitability takes you to great heights from where you jump into deeper ones. But it is surely the stuff of genius; the brown tip of a matchstick that burns first in spite of knowing its end is built into its beginning.