Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman, 1978)

Autumn Sonata is not meant to be a subtle, “restrained” portrait of a family crippled by pain, hatred and coldness. At one point, Eva performs Chopin’s Prelude for her mother, who then tells her that her interpretation twists the initial intention, transforming a work of incredible depth, into something simplistic, sentimental and overtly feminine. Bergman fights against this perspective, presenting a film that is not only straightforward, but sentimental, and often deceptively blunt. A large section of the film is comprised of back and forth conversations, occasionally matched with flashbacks, that leave little to the imagination. Every thought, emotion and memory is laid out on the table without a hint of embellishment or deception.

Though far from my favourite Ingmar Bergman film, in many ways, it is probably the one I relate to most. This might simply be because, though retreading similar emotional battlegrounds, in this film they are fully articulated. Many of the conversations about love and anxiety seem to hit very close to home. Though I can’t say my relationship with my mother is as fraught with insecurity and abuse as in this case, the issues and symptoms that this toxic relationship causes are universal. One of my few gripes with the film is the character’s apparent omnipotent understanding of themselves, especially Eva who seems to be able to carefully map and understand the reason and means of her emotional history. I’ve always understood anxiety as being something that is self-perpetuating, in part because the source is often so deceptive. Though there are hints that Eva was not always so clear-minded about her mother’s involvement in shaping (or mis-shaping) her identity, at this point of my life, I find it difficult that one day all the pieces will comfortably fit together.

In this sense, Charlotte, is a more “realistic” portrait. I relate more to the physical and emotional experiences of Eva. A lot of her anguish and frustration, even her self-destructive behaviours, match my own to an almost frightening precision… but I somehow understand Charlotte better, because Charlotte does not understand anything at all. The only thing that is truly cryptic about this film is Eva’s reasoning for inviting her mother to stay. It’s clear that there is a huge amount of animosity between the two; they haven’t seen each other in seven years, and Eva is purposefully evasive concerning certain circumstances that she knows would upset or discourage her mother’s visiting. Are her lies motivated solely by her desire to rekindle a relationship with her mother, or is it part of a larger scheme of revenge? A lot of Eva’s actions suggest that she is trying to bring her mother to a point of realization… to reveal to her mother all the pain she has caused over the years. Or perhaps it is finally her chance to demonstrate that she is not the weak child that she once was, and that she will no longer allow her mother to dominate her completely.

On the sidelines of this intense psychological face-off are Viktor (Eva’s husband) and Helena (Eva’s sister). Both characters are the only ones that are apparently capable of love, but are also unfortunately shut off from any kind of reciprocation. Viktor offers an incredible outsider’s point of view on the action that is taking place, and is a voice of great reason and passion. His affection for Eva is incredible, though it is clear that she does not feel the same way. She relies on him, she loves him, but she has never been in love with him. What seems to be the most heartbreaking for him though, is the fact that Eva will never truly understand that he loves her without any expectations or conditions… she has been so ruined, that there is no way he can say “I love you”, because she no longer trusts words. The only person Eva ever apparently loved is her son, and her pregnancy and his childhood transform her completely. His death did not revert her back to the person she was though, because in her mind and soul, he is still alive. It is his love that keeps her alive. I think it is this situation, and the fact that her mother’s long-term partner had just died, that motivated her to bring her mother back into her life. She was unfortunately wrong, and her mother though hurt by her partner’s death, is never apparently marked by it like the other characters are.

Charlotte’s circumstance is heartbreaking, because there is never any hint that she has felt love in the same way as Eva, or Viktor, or Helena do. It isn’t to say that she didn’t love Leonard, but he never reached her in the way that would truly transform her life. In essence, she lives a life without love… I can’t imagine a life that is more painful and empty, and it is one I fear every day. What is worse, it seems that it is Charlotte’s fear that keeps her at a constant distance with those who surround her. As terrible as the anxiety that Eva describes, the internal suffering that plagues Charlotte seems all the more worse.

She seems to suffer greatly and her only way of handling that pain is to spread it among those who surround her. Charlotte’s most human moment comes in her confession that she wishes that Eva would have understood as a child, that they were equally helpless. It is a moment of incredible conceit, as Charlotte seems completely detached from her responsibility and role as a mother, but it is difficult not to empathise with her weakness. I think we all want to believe if someone wraps their arms around you, all the problems of the world could potentially evaporate… that human love and understanding can overcome all and any anxieties, even for a short time. Simultaneously, we fear this release, and this makes that freedom an impossibility.

How could a person living under those circumstances succeed so completely at being so apparently passionate, suggesting an illusion of incredible vivacity and passion for life? The moment she is alone, there is this incredible restlessness and pain… but there is no apparent emotional comfort in company either. How could she be so apparently blind? How does she survive, when the people around her crumble physically and psychologically? Why can she persevere, while Helena fades away?

There are no answers to these questions, and they are ones that come up time and time again in Bergman’s work. It reminds me very much of Winter Light, and the different reactions of the disillusionment with God from Tomas and Jonas. Even their struggle with faith, very much mirrors Charlotte and Eva’s struggle with love. In some senses, it is the same struggle, simply fought on different grounds.

I find that Ingmar Bergman is one of the most difficult filmmakers to write about, especially since it is so easy to get caught up with words and ideas. His craft extends far beyond dialogue and performance, and as much, if not more is conveyed through the composition and quality of his images. Autumn Sonata is one of his colour films, and it is shot in autumn tones. The characters wear shades of red, orange and yellows, or else muted neutrals that are effective by the warm light that envelopes nearly every scene. In many ways, it seems ironic considering the romantic associations of the tone of light. Autumn invokes are lot of sentiments about life coming towards its end, which is very reflective of Charlotte’s current “state”. What effect is this meant to take in context of the film? Frankly, I’m not even sure. Her lifespan and the situation of the film seem at once closely tied and completely inconsequential to the action that unfolds. Though the fact that she is in her own autumn years seems to be touched upon, the fact remains that Charlotte remains stagnant, young or old, she has not changed and probably never will.

J’ai tué ma mère (Xavier Dolan, 2009)

Xavier Dolan was just nineteen years old when he wrote, directed and produced his first feature length film, J’ai tué ma mère. The film was also included in the 2009 Cannes film festival, winning three awards. His debut film is not without its problems, but in this case, many of the film’s faults and inconsistencies, only lend to its “fresh” feeling. Dolan emerges as a youthful and raw voice in cinema, one that has not quite settled down, and seems to be bursting with unrestrained emotion and creativity. The presence of handheld camera work, poetic musical interludes, and moments of fantasy born out of a unique film and cultural background, create a collage-like portrait of a tumultuous adolescence and family life.

The film’s weakest point is probably the dialogue, though I think in international releases and subtitles some of that may be lost in translation. Moments of incredible poignancy are often matched with facile language clichés that can be only overlooked mostly due to the strength of the performance and intensity of emotion. It is a fault nonetheless, one that will hopefully be polished out in Dolan’s follow-ups. In many ways, it reminds me of Autumn Sonata, which I watched earlier tonight, and which covers a very similar ground. Both films are extremely melodramatic, even cloyingly sentimental… it is only that, the sentiment is often rooted in strong anger or hate, and one without wars or great action, so that it is easy to “overlook”. Especially since both deal with apparently egomaniacal mother figures, the line between soap opera and insight becomes tricky. In a way, it is easy to point fingers at parents, and to engage in simple Freudian  cause and effects within these kinds of narratives. Both films seem to mostly overcome these trappings, but never completely. In both cases I think that style and emotion overrules intellectual insight, something that I don’t necessarily have a problem with, but the fact that I notice also irks me somewhat. In the end, both films opt for incomplete resolutions marked by temporary acceptance of human imperfection. Bergman’s resolution seems to ache, though, with the incorrigible pain of several lifetimes, while Dolan’s protagonist seems healed, albeit temporarily, from that anguish.

As an apparently autobiographical film, it is difficult to imagine what Dolan’s mother must have thought of his portrait of her; to say it is unflattering is an understatement. She embodies a familiar kitsch variety of modern woman, who holds herself up as being a pinnacle of grace and style, despite the fact her lifestyle is a materialistic bizzaro world of the high class world she is  so desperately trying to embody. She is crass, short-tempered and self-centered. Somehow though, she never falls into the realm of caricature. Much if this is due to Anne Dorval’s incredible performance, one that rivals most of the very best of last year. There is also an understanding on Hubert’s (Dolan) part of his mother’ confusion, inexperience and inability to cope with a life she never wanted or expected. It isn’t necessarily that being a mother was “accidental”, but expected of her, and being the kind of person she is… she does what she must in order to feel acceptance. This does not soften either his interpretation of her great faults as a mother, or create a strong empathically feeling from his character towards hers.

Hubert has two means of escape from the empirical control his mother has over him, his art and his relationship with Antonin. The film handles Hubert’s homosexuality with a wonderful understatedness, and though it contributes to the rift between mother and son, it avoids most of the familiar clichés of a close-minded parent dealing with the revelation of their child’s “unexpected” sexual preferences. Dolan creates a great deal of comfort and eroticism in the scenes between Antonin and Hubert, which is especially remarkable considering his age. There is nothing cheap or fake about the intimacy felt by the two characters, and in a realm where most films made by, for or about teens tends to take the emotion out of sex, this was a wonderful surprise. Even so, their relationship is not without complications, something that only adds to the complex nature of the interpersonal relations in the film.

Though not without its faults, J’ai tué ma mere is an incredible feature that does not feel like a debut. So much of the film feels like an adventure; the work of a young and excited artist trying new things out, and paying homage to great talents that inspired him. At just 21 years old, we can only hope that this is the beginning of a long and fruitful career for Dolan, and that he will continue to shock and awe his audiences with his filmmaking. His new film, Les amours imaginaires (2010), premieres at the Cannes film festival next week.


When the newly appointed American cardinal Edward Egan returned home from his investiture in Rome in 2001 he sported a red silk hat, signifying that the Pope had made him a prince of the Church. ‘What does the red symbolise?’ a New York reporter asked him. Cardinal Egan said it meant you had to be so willing to protect the faith that you would even go to death. Mary Queen of Scots might have agreed. On the day in 1857 she was fated to meet the hooded executioner she chose to wear a black-and-red dress. The black was for her death, but the red dye (no doubt made with beetle blood) symbolised, or perhaps summoned her courage meeting it.

For many cultures red is both death and life- a beautiful and terrible paradox. In our modern language of metaphors, red is anger, it is fire, it is the stormy feelings of the heart, it is love, it is the god of war, and it is power (130).


They didn’t always listen, the Great Masters. Turned had been warned many times not to use paints that faded, but that day in 1835 or so when he was gazing at his workbox thinking of the pink sunset and a violent sea, he chose his brightest red, even though he knew it would not last. Or perhaps he even liked the idea (125).

Victoria Finlay

Colour: Travels through the Paintbox

Eastman Color lacked Technicolor’s rich saturation, transparent shadows, and detailed textures. Still, the monopack stock was easier to use with widescreen dimsensions of the day. Unfortunately, Eastman images tended to fade — especially if the footage was hastily processed. By the early 1970s, many prints and negatives had turned a puttyish pink or a sickly crimson (301).

Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell

Film History: An Introduction (third edition)

Long faded crimson dreams in J.W. Turner’s Waves Breaking Against the Wind

Longing and Loneliness: A Strange Rant on Cinema

They're watching me

Few words fit together quite as nicely as loneliness and longing. They are both profoundly sad states of being, they evoke melancholy and desire. It is difficult to feel a true and deep sense of loneliness without longing; it is not a state of simply being alone, there is nearly always a sense wanting and waiting. And that is longing. Longing is by nature, a state of dissatisfaction and unhappiness; it is something that is needed and desired to the point of affecting the way we feel the world.

Somehow, there is a kind of unifying factor in films that explore loneliness and longing. It is perhaps, that sense of commonality that it evokes, this sudden sense that so many of us are reaching for impossible dreams and loves. It is a kind of acceptance, and I suppose many people long for that as well.

Some films are purposefully alienating though. Scorsese’s Taxi Driver comes to mind; I think to a certain extent, many can empathize with Travis Bickle’s otherness, perhaps even his social awkwardness.  He is so far gone though that his loneliness become frightening and compulsive. Travis is not without longing either, and it motivates him to commit acts of great violence. How far removed is alienation from loneliness?

Merriam Webster


1 a : being without company : lone b : cut off from others : solitary
2 : not frequented by human beings : desolate
3 : sad from being alone : lonesome
4 : producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation


1 : a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person’s affections from an object or position of former attachment : estrangement

Everyone is just faded lights

Does this mean that alienation is a kind of wilful loneliness? Separation implies some kind of lack of control, but withdrawal is something else entirely. Is it still loneliness when it is wilful estrangement? Is Travis’ loneliness willing; he is psychotic, he is broken from war, does he have enough control over his state of mind to really wilfully withdraw from society. He has strong hate for many social structures, institutions and groups, but which came first? Hatred or loneliness? Impossible to say.

Why do we hate or fear characters like Bickle, even the ones that are seemingly harmless like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. I remember reading the book in high school, and I was shocked by how many people hated it. The reasons were often quite shallow, some related the “impossible” writing structure, but most seemed aimed at Holden. He was self-absorbed, deluded, violent, disgusting, unsympathetic… he lied, he hurt… he was a coward, and well… a phony. It’s an evaluation of his character that completely ignores the real suffering that Holden is experiencing; his psychological and emotional issues, and yet even when some of my classmates acknowledged these realities, their hatred persisted. Is it because he ought to be happy? His parents are wealthy; he lives in the “greatest” city in the world, and is sent to all the best schools. He is also apparently good looking and seemingly, quite intelligent. He should be happy, even with the loss of his brother; he should learn to manage his pain. Do we hate him because he has everything? Or because he has nothing and everything at the same time? Is it simply a case of not understanding? I’m not quite sure, it’s pure speculation, I always felt deeply for Holden.

Back to cinema, it’s been too long since I’ve read the Catcher in the Rye.

Aside from general personal feelings of loneliness, what spurred this outburst of emotion, speculation and self-reflection? A bit of music: Yumeji’s theme from Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love. It almost seems as loneliness and longing were conceived to describe the atmosphere of that film. There is so much wanting and waiting in that film; so much despair. It seems impossible that you could fear love so much. Then again, the fear in this case comes from a displaced sense of loyalty and a fear of conflating lust with love. Even if they consummate their relationship and desires, they are lost, and alone. Maybe we are all islands. Then again, maybe not, Chungking Express gives me hope.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

At this moment, I almost wonder how many individual films that touch on what I’m feeling I could name before I falling asleep (which would be a blessing at this point). To talk about certain films seems redundant, or at least uninteresting. The Machinist is about loneliness or alienation… let’s settle on alienation in this case, but it’s of no interest to me. Probably because it’s a bad movie.

Also, listening to Leonard Cohen consistently has an inspiring effect; it reminds me of how alone I am.

Is Bright Star a film about longing, but not loneliness? It certainly covers both ideas, both aspects, but is heavily leaned towards the former. The strength of the character’s affections seems to greatly undermine any feelings of loneliness that they may feel: at least for most of the running length. Or am I disremembering? I probably am.

I'm all alone, except the dog. He's my BFF.

In one of my favourite films, Band of Outsiders, the relationship between alienation, loneliness and longing is fascinating. Loneliness seems to  the route  that leads to the other two. Being alone exists first, absent of any strong desire to escape or longing for affection. It is only when Odile feels wanted that she becomes aware of her loneliness, and is brought into a new self-awareness where longing exists. When all three come to understand their mutual loneliness and otherness, they seek to alienate and distance themselves from society. They are never truly bonded though; there is too much conflict and fear. As much as they are constantly searching to connect and impress upon each other, they are never quite together. I think this is exemplified in the Madison sequence. They dance together, in a sense… they follow the same patterns, but the togetherness is really an illusion of the dance. They are not co-existing on the dance floor, they merely mimic familiar dance moves, nothing would really be lost if one or two of them were removed, unlike a dance like the tango where togetherness is essential. Their voice-overs interrupt the music, and we are given insights into their thought process. They are desperate and excited, they’ve discovered something new, and they’ve discovered sex, themselves. There isn’t anything real about the world they’re living however. It’s only the movies. Except when it is real, but they are not living in reality.

Adolescent loneliness is the most confusing kind. Perhaps because you have millions of hormones fucking with your brain, and the fact that you have so little experience and understanding of the world that you can’t quite cope with these new “adult” feelings. I still feel like I’m caught in a perpetual state of adolescence that I can’t escape. For every day I feel like a driven, maniacal Laurie Starr there are about a year’s worth of days that I am your frumpy season 1, episode 1 Willow Rosenberg.

Band of Outsiders is probably the first film about teenaged years to come to mind, as relating to loneliness, second up is easily Smooth Talk. What is so fascinating about that film is that the loneliness and longing that the protagonist is experiencing are ones she is simultaneously completely unaware of. Connie is a very beautiful fifteen year old girl who looks far older then she is. She enjoys the attention she gets from men, and dresses and behaves in order to attract it. She often finds herself overwhelmed though when things get too serious. She is isolated because of the strength of her biology and physicality, and not because she is strange or ugly or somehow deformed. It is this disparity between identification (she is identified as a mature and therefore, sexual being) and reality (she is a teenager with needs and wants, but who is still as close to being a child as she is to being an adult). She is both pulled and repulsed by her loneliness, as it pushes her to get attention, but she then wilfully withdraws herself from the same situations because she is unequipped to handle them. The final confrontation with Arnold Friend, inspires a wide range of seemingly contradictory emotions in Connie. Ultimately, she wishes for loneliness, for otherness, and cannot find it because she is surrounded;  bombarded by “companionship”. This is momentary though, because ultimately, we wonder if she can have healthy relationships due to her experience.

tasty little peach

Loneliness can lead to anxiety and paranoia. I’ve touched on this briefly with Taxi Driver and The Catcher in the Rye, but it’s most obvious manifestation is in the horror genre. Perhaps the strongest incarnation of this kind of paranoid, anxious alienation is in Roman Polanski’s Apartment trilogy. How terrible is it to relate so completely to a character like Carole in Repulsion. For so long, I felt like I was watching my worst day ever unfolding on the screen. This terrible fear, and repulsion of sex, motivated… in a way, by the desire for sex or something like it. In horror, loneliness almost always leads to death or at least, madness.

Why is that? We all feel a certain degree of loneliness. How far must we fall from feeling alone to leaving rotting rabbit corpses in our purse? I have a sensitive sense of smell, I’d like to be able to prepare to these kinds of leaps in psychology. Obviously, I am not talking medically, but cinematically. I don’t know anything about medicine or illnesses, psychological or biological. It is often presented as one thing leads to another, though perhaps, it is the development of certain symptoms of loneliness that lead to serious problems. Alienation is one. The further you alienate yourself from society, the further disconnected you are from concepts of living, life and values. Paranoia is also crucial, perhaps because it is so uncontrollable. One must remember, true paranoia is not the fear that your boss it out to get you, its’ the fear that everyone and everything is out to get you. You probably think this post is out to get you. It is a symptom that tends to get worse and worse, and can also lead to a disconnect that can potentially lead to the perceived physical threat against one’s person.

I never claimed to be a GOOD vegetarian!

I feel like I’m falling far from what I was initially talking about. Now I’m talking about my greatest fears, my worst doubts. I’m not truly afraid of madness, though I am afraid of being accused of being mad when I’m not. That is truly frightening.

I want simple loneliness and longing. Something removed from death, if it’s possible. The Apartment? Suicide. A different kind of death, one that is so far from all the others I’ve talked about. I almost don’t know what to say, I’ve never reached that point of despair, though I can understand it. For Fran, her loneliness is incredibly confused because on one hand, she feels as though she is needed and loved. That perhaps she should be grateful for that, even though she is dissatisfied, and well lonely. The Apartment is very much about being alone in the crowd. What about those offices? Those seemingly endless rows of people going about their business, each one of them completely alone, despite being surrounded by hundreds of people.  It’s disconcerting on so many levels. It’s such a machinated view of our existence.

The Interior design sure is oppressive

Reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not writing about it though.

I love those movies where you have characters who feel so alone, and long for something… like Sunrise, how Janet Gaynor longs for the happiness and innocence of the early years of her marriage, and though she suffers greatly… in the end she finds that happiness again. I’m not even sure if there is a film out there that handles that whole transition with more grace, beauty and conviction. It gives you hope.

It's just me and the moon

I can only imagine how terrible and lonely veterans from any war must feel. Especially a long one, most wars seem endless though. I remember reading those stories by Ernest Heminway for class, about men who return home and can’t re-integrate, at least not emotionally. They try and try, but they can never truly overcome their experience, especially since no one understands it. I don’t remember what it was called, but there is one about a returning soldier, who lives at home, and his mother is getting him to do and try all these things to be normal again, and there is this final confrontation between them where he tells her that he doesn’t believe in God anymore. It’s a profound statement. I never believed in God, but the core idea of that kind of declaration is that your entire value system has been turned upside down and nothing has taken its place. You are left with essentially nothing. God doesn’t exist, but the soldier hasn’t found anything to put there. So he is consumed by his feelings of otherness and loneliness. Many films touch on this, Film Noir probably does it best, but films like The Best Years of Our Lives also explore the issue with great sensitivity and open-endedness. I find war terribly horrific and I honestly acknowledge that I could never understand what that experience must be like. I think the true effects that soldiering has on the individual can never truly be measured; it’s such an unnatural existence.

Somehow this whole “thing”, whatever you want to call it, has been an extremely therapeutic experience. I feel like I’ve purged a huge amount of anxiety, and though I’m not sure what exactly to make of this document, I think it might contain some value. I’m filled with a bit of hope, not necessarily the kind that you’d find in Sunrise. I’m not like those characters at all, I probably never can be. There are other films where loneliness is “cured” though, even In the Mood for Love. Chungking Express at least! It’s all coming back together. I should listen to the Eagles… or the Mama’s and the Papa’s, whatever.

Me after I realized I wasn't so alone after all! Guess which one I am!

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Hockey Mask!


Gilles Graton

Believe it or not, there was a time in my life that I hoped to make a career of designing goalie masks. It was never meant to be, but I still appreciate the artistry and personalization involved. It is one of the appeals of hockey for me, a sport that I feel is founded by personality and grit. I’m not the fan I once was, but there is something brutally exciting about a good hockey game, and it always reminds me of a time when I hoped to be somehow involved in capturing that energy through art in some way. Time changes us though. Hmm.

Ginger Snaps (Fawcett, 2000)


Watching Ginger Snaps for the sixth or seven times, like most great films, something new jumped out at me. I’ve always seen the film as a reflection of my own high school psyche, at least an externalization of a lot of feelings I was experiencing. I was never as extreme or misanthropic as the Fitzgerald sisters, even at my worst. This time though, it occurred to me that I had always looked at this film as a strange kind of erotic fantasy. Erotic may be too extreme a word…

Though the film paints an extremely sympathetic portrait of female adolescence and sexuality, I think it (knowingly or not) also mythologizes female friendship. I don’t think this is by any means a bad thing, and even though the implication would be incestuous, the comparison stands. The friendship between Bridget and Ginger is disturbed, passionate and enviable. It’s something, in my own weird way that I’ve always yearned for and envied. The perversity does not escape me, neither does it discourage nor taint that desire for that kind of friendship.

The film idolizes the relationship between the sisters, and I don’t think it is without reason. There is something incredibly powerful in female relationships. It seems to be tied, intrinsically to sex and identity, and this film seems to fit as much with transformative films like The Fly and An American Werewolf in London, as it does Persona.

The film begins with the two sisters bound, already one. It’s an interesting reversal, as most of the film courses the degradation of their relationship. The idea of womanhood, sexuality and men is what disturbs the careful balance. More than anything else, it’s the involvement of male figures that changes their dynamic, as Ginger is suddenly moved by her sexual desires, and abandons her younger sister.

This is more than just a destruction of the sister’s relationship (in a way, it reinforces their bond to a certain extent), but reflects a tumultuous inner transformation that is externalized through the symptoms of lycanthropy. A discussion about Ginger’s “first time” (more ways than one), is seemingly about her blood lust, but is as significantly about her insignificance now, she is “just a lay”. Even though there never seemed to be any respect or mutual understanding in her relationship with the boy, she suddenly sees the attachment of purity and how she will now be perceived. This is at once, a reflection of Ginger’s insecurity but it goes far deeper than that. Her fears are not unfounded, and it takes much less for girls to be perceived as sluts, even in the film.

What was I saying? Why does this film feel like such a violation… the film is like an assault on innocence and femininity… you enter sex into the equation and the purity and intensity of female friendship is completely destroyed… Though there is never a deeper friendship or sensuality than between Bridget and Ginger than at the beginning of the film, it is still sexless. We can’t help perceiving it through the male gaze, adding meaning and resonance that does not exist…but once real disruption of this thought process occurs, everything falls apart. I feel like I’m talking around in circles, ranting, revealing too much of my fragile sexually frustrated emotionally crippled psyche that this film never fails to draw out of me.

Any latent lesbianism that I exhibit is all part of a yearning for the impossible, a bond that I could never hope to have with another woman. It’s not about sex, it really isn’t. It’s about something more, or something less. Ginger Snaps… it’s apparently snapped me :/

I’m not sure of this is a spectacular film; a lot of it is odd, and clumsy. The final act never quite gelled for me on a technical level, though it is as emotionally potent as everything that precedes it. I can’t even say it inspired me in the right way, it’s the kind of film I would love to make, and probably would given the chance. I wish it could inspire some coherency, because I think my thoughts on it are lovely, as disturbed and maniacal as they may be.


What I’ve been up to…


There are two main reasons why I haven’t updated this month. The first is one that has plagued me in the past, my laptop once again, has died on me. Luckily I’m getting a new one this month, so hopefully these problems will be coming to an end very soon.

The second is more fun, though it hasn’t taken up nearly as much time as I would have liked. For the past two weeks, Montreal has been hosting the Fantasia Film Festival and I’ve been going to see some films (only five to date and I’ve only managed to write two reviews so far!). I’m seeing at least three more before the festival ends this Wednesday, closing with Trick’ R’ Treat and Tarantino’s new film, Inglorious Basterds, hosted by Eli Roth.

I’ve been lucky enough to be writing for Twitch, an online site for Asian/weird cinema, and hopefully by the next few days you’ll be able to read even more of my work. Until then, here are some thoughts on Grace (Paul Solet) and Dream (Kim Ki-Duk). I’ve also seen Love Exposure (Sion Sono), Orochi (Norio Tsuruta) and The Children (Tom Shankland).

Some of the other writing I’ve been doing has been for Playtime magazine. I put out a short article on my obsession of June, Josey Losey, focusing especially on his relationship with Harold Pinter. Most recently I’ve also written a short review of (500) Days of Summer.

I’ve also done something very rare indeed, and I’ve picked up a novel! I have about 30 pages left to read of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is wonderfully evocative and heart wrenching. It’s not a difficult read, though I find many of the ideas and sentiments very complex and it’s not necessarily “light” reading. I definitely recommend it though.

As for the blog world, may I recommend some recent favourite articles and ideas;

Spengo at From Atlantis to the Interzone presents his Favourite Actresses.

Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule presents another Quiz, one that I’ll hopefully be completing in the next few days.

Polar Bear reviews Jane Campion’s new film, Bright Star, which he saw at some NZ film fest and is apparently super awesome.

I generally just enjoy browsing Surface Noise because it looks soooo gooood. Here is an example of the rather unique visual flair that the site is enfused with, 20 shots from Jazz on a Summer Day (1960)

Hopefully you’ll see some updates in the next week . Look out for them!

L’Invitation au voyage (Germaine DuLac)


The only intertitle in the film is presented before it even starts. It’s rather long, and a message from DuLac herself. She presents her basic plot, a woman who goes to a bar, meets a man but he leaves her when he finds out he has a child. She then adds, that her intention with this piece is to create a world through images, this is a film of the mind, an extension of her character’s feelings and desires, and words would only disrupt that flow.

Much like her earlier work, this film is very much a work of feminist filmmaking. It channels the loneliness of femininity especially as a wife and mother. The trapped sensation of being confined by home and responsibility, that even beyond the walls of her prison, she is trapped by her own mind and the expectations that they bring. The sailors of the bar represent a sort of freedom, they ask young women to come on journeys with them, but it’s under the pretext of sexual favours, a sort of slavery. For some though, this is the only escape. There is no escape from the world of men, they rule all.

The fantasy sequences are filled with a sexualized desire, brooding seas, isolated and romantic ships and a chance at companionship. The fantasy of the male sailor is not as subtle, the images are dominated by “victory”, “war” and blatant sex.

The film also uses music in an interesting way, though a silent film… there is a huge emphasis on the female musicians playing at the particular bar. DuLac associates the arts and the musical instruments with a personal freedom, a freedom of the soul. It’s no surprise that in her earlier film I’ve seen, The Smiling Madame Beudet, the only joy in Beudet’s life is her piano.

The sailor doesn’t mind the fact that she is married in the least, he finds her attractive and perhaps sees it as an issue of another man, not his own, if the wife is unfaithful. Her child though, is something he is unwilling to deal with. Is it an issue of ownership and personal responsibility? He would not be minding the child, but it’s presence alone might be an unhappy reminder that his mistress is not carrying his own child.

It also points to how marriage is one kind of prison, but add a child, and the woman is completely undesirable. The female protagonist is once again propelled into loneliness, abandoned by her husband and then her prospective lover. The sailor also shows no shame, as he parades his new lover in front of her. He teases and shames her, making her feel completely unwanted. It’s his own revenge for the child he never met. However, even this is met with a sort of sad yearning for her. His desire overpowers his “common sense” as a male figure in society. She seems to inspires in him a desire to settle down with a family and home, without quite realising that is the very thing she is trying to escape.

Textually interesting, the film works best as a document of early feminist doctrine than anything else. The imagery may be compelling, but it’s not nearly as effective as it could be. At it’s best, the film channels a strong sense of loneliness and isolation, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to sustain interest throughout the relatively short running time.