Adaptation: The Fabrication Of One’s Own Truth

You move through a movie and its landscapes as if you’re lead to an unknown place in the dark. Meanwhile, all your senses are heightened and your sense perceptions vigilant.

Watching Spike Jonze’s Adaptation felt a lot like this. It has a bold start; fragile in its making that could just as easily have broken the film but instead, it deepens it. And as the film progresses, you’re taken on a rollercoaster through myriad stops that contradict each other. But one thing remains consistent; Kaufman’s abysmal integrity with his own truth. And yet there’s resistance and you’re not quite sure what it is.

While Charlie Kaufman struggles to write. The story draws a parallel by portraying the life of his twin brother, Donald Kaufman, doing the exact opposite. In much the same way, Susan Orlean struggles to find her passion when she interviews John Laroche for an article for The New York Times who is her antithesis.

This contradiction keeps the film intense and surprising. Even if, halfway through the film, you happen to draw your conclusions about the ending. Most likely, it’s not what you think. Cleverly-executed, there’s no telling how far Nicolas Cage can embrace his characters; both of Charlie to Donald to Charlie again in a series of praiseworthy setups. And Meryl Streep who you can’t help but love but hate at the same time holds every scene immaculately by being herself.

What stood out most in Adaptation was the constant disagreement between action and inaction. This one time, I’d make an exception to “it’s what you see that counts.” Because to watch it is to see what the makers behind the film want to show you. Which, in its diversified and courageous ways, is conclusively the real success story.

Mug: The Epitome That Is Identity

What does it mean to be nobody but yourself? Does your appearance and how you look, to others, play a role in the framing of your own self? The roots that anchor your physical appearance are shallow but they still exist. And in the face of society, friends, relatives, and family members do things change?

Malgorzata Szumowska’s Mug epitomizes this thought vividly and abundantly. The movie talks about how we are affected by the ones we love in ways we can’t comprehend. The value of our presence in another’s life is a testament to how powerless we are when put to the test. Whether it’s love, affection, responsibility, respect, or belonging. We’re all a part of this game in which when one of the things that define us is stripped away, it’s as if nothing is left.

The details that honor life are rich, profound, and intimate. And the truthfulness with which we communicate with others stems from our personal experience of them. How we look at ourselves, what keeps us from empathizing with others, and how we make sense of what feeds our soul, desires, and fears is what keeps us real.

The highlight of the film, from my personal viewing of it, is transformative. It’s when the protagonist looks at himself in the mirror, soliloquizing the words, “It’s me, it’s me.”  It’s true that moments – both good and bad – are ephemeral. But what stays behind is the essence and innate willingness of you to still live and love, just the same. It’s this reflection that one must cherish in the film. To watch it is to understand the many manifestations of love, perception, and self-acceptance.

Watch this feature film on Mubi.

A Woman Is A Woman: Blame It On Patriarchy

The setting of a film as vivid, euphoric, and amusing as Jean-Luc Godard’s A Woman Is A Woman transcends normalcy. It’s not your “everyday” kind of film. But it is a film that encapsulates the “every day” of life in a rare format. The bursts of singing, dancing, the bustle of the city, and the nakedness of the apartment in which Angela’s and Emile’s life meshes together is like a dream.

Somehow, the parallel Jean-Luc Godard has thought for Alfred’s life also joins in even though we see him only once in that apartment. Alfred’s life lives on, on the other side of the door, which has its own flavor and body.   

So real and unreal, at the same time, the story is omnipresent, ambitious, and at times even vague. To watch this film is to understand the meaning behind: “Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen…”

For this isn’t a film of too many dialogues, nor is it a film of a happy ending. I’m not quite sure what this film is about because it’s so many things. The visual impulsivity of the film is enticing as much as the background score is nostalgic. The script is too engrossed in its own individuality and sentiment; showing off all the details but revealing nothing.

Watch this film on Mubi.

Shame: The Extraction of Soul into Body

It’s difficult to view movies of such nature with open-minded curiosity. But somehow, the individuality and ruggedness of Michael Fassbender’s character, Brandon, makes it axiomatic. Especially when held under the same breath and torch as his sister, Sissy’s (Carrey Mulligan) life.  

In Steve McQueen’s “Shame,” the story circles around the life of a sex-addict who soon transgresses himself into apathy. Steve McQueen gives us access to a soul who we see extract himself, as the story progresses, from all his sensory experiences.

Brandon’s life is portrayed as being uncomfortably serene; perhaps a contradiction Brandon endures as a reflection of his inner state of mind. Perhaps what we saw was a process, a justification of a crisis in which sex addiction is the peak of the iceberg. And underneath it is a floating mass of years and years of aloneness, frustration, and resentment; the kind that cannot be clocked through time or atoned.

The story gets more and more intense as it progresses. The cinematography is sublime, involved, and specific to the tone of the film. The contingency of the film is tense, unforgiving and relentless. To watch it is to feel the grudge of contempt and denial. It belongs to a genre that transcends normality by embracing it.