Sunday, May 22, 2011

High-strung over Big-budget Hollywood summer season? Here's an Art Film Comparison entry to quell your mind - Belle Du Jour & In the Mood for Love

In the spirit of the times, I know this is the big Hollywood summer movie season, where all the big-budget, super-duper special effects films from the Hollywood factory are currently being released and showing in the cinemas - Thor, Fast Five, Priest and etc. I love watching all the action, and the incredible effects on the big-screen. But sometimes, one need to balance all the hoo-haa with some little gems of movies that puts art in the artiste. Some humbling pie in the midst of all the ego-pumping summer madness sure helps to quell the frenzied mind and soul.

These 2 films first pique my interest in art
When I was very new in the movie-watching hobby, I happened to came across 2 very good films, which directly draws me into the art film genre. The first French movie I watched (and loved) is "Belle Du Jour" - a story that examines the female masochism. This movie is erotic in nature, but not to the point of revealing a bare breast or anything like that. It's a fantasy and reality movie, for it deals with the female sexuality and wild inhibitions, but not in a vulgar way. The story is set in the 60s, about a bored housewive who gets herself involved in prostitution during the afternoon, and that is way before Desperate Housewives. Foreign movies are good for me, because i get to learn their language and savor all its delicious-ness. Get ready to get some culture....East and West.

The only chinese language movie I loved
And "In The Mood for Love" happens to be the first and only movie I loved in the Chinese language. Of course I am English-educated, but watching this movie really makes me proud of my roots and how beautiful and polish being a Chinese can be. I watched this movie at Mid Valley GSC Cinema twice! Surprise to discover such beauty in all forms being condensed in a film. The story is about a man and woman who discovered their spouses to be unfaithful to them, and how they cope with the situation. Soak in the atmosphere of the film, which is slow for a reason. The art direction of this movie is simply delicious. Compared to "Belle Du Jour", this movie is very much steep in the Chinese culture and polite social graces, which a lot of people can learn from.

An Actor's Film
Both films I consider to be very true to its cultural heritages. The languages spoken are beautiful, soft, harsh and concise to convey an emotion. True, I would regard both films to be an actor's movie, meaning it is useful for aspiring actors to watch and study these films because they both shows the way an actor moves and communicates through their body language - an exquisite kiss, a gentle embrace or a hidden show of pain.

Short skirt or long?
For aspiring fashion designers too, you will love the clothes worn. In Belle Du Jour, the fashion designer was Yves Saint Laurent. He kept all the skirts in the movie long, even though that time in the 60s, mini-skirts was the in thing. This is because the fashion designer wanted the clothes in the film to withstand the test of time, and not be just another fad. Indeed, the film's wardrobe design is timeless. Watching this movie, I am emboldened to be as direct and amorous as the French gentleman portrayed in the film. So suave and deep.

Clothes used to convey the change of day and time
For "In the Mood for Love", the clothes were more specific for a period of time. Especially the chinese qi-pao in which Maggine Cheung was the most-talked about piece of clothing. Her wardrobe is especially important because it is used to visually inform the audience a change in time or day, since the story in the movie moves very slowly, compared to Belle Du Jour, with a very interesting flashes back and forth between reality and imagination. This principle of using the change of wardrobe to convey a change of scene and time is also evident in my last commercial:

Can these 2 films be useful for aspiring directors?
Even though these 2 films are very different in its cultural sense, the directing method is very similar. Like Leung Kar-wai, Luis Bunuel was very concern with the visual elements of his film. Both directors rarely explained the reason or motivation to their actors regarding the roles they played. Like Luis Bunuel, he would only asked his actor to hold the wine glass with only 1 finger instead of 2. Just like Wong Kar-wai, he would direct his actor to walk in a certain way. Automatically, the actors would have been able to process the reason behind that certain gesture the director focused on. To learn more about film direction, kindly email your interest to join our Artiste Training Course (Film Direction) to KRISLAWFANCLUB@GMAIL.COM Students in my class get to learn more in-depth about the films mentioned here.