5 reasons to watch Patrick Melrose

Not recommended for the faint of heart, but still...

Reading time 6 minutes

In 2018, German filmmaker Edward Berger premiered the mini-series «Patrick Melrose», which tells the story of the eponymous hero’s attempts to deal with the traumas of his past and live a life of dignity. The project did not receive an unequivocally enthusiastic response from the audience but was nevertheless extraordinary. This article explains why it’s worth watching.

  1. An atypical role for Benedict Cumberbatch

One of the most in-demand actors, not only in the UK but worldwide, admitted in an interview:

«I think my strength is in my brain, not my muscles. But that doesn’t embarrass me. It is very easy to look clever. It is much harder to play smart. But, because I grew up in high society and went to one of the oldest schools in the world, I have to play asexual sociopathic intellectuals for the rest of my life…»

Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.

So Patrick’s eccentric role is an entirely different one. The protagonist claims to be a self-destructive leader in every possible way: alcohol, drugs, promiscuity – the list does not end there. Not every film gives you the opportunity to watch an almost completely demoralized Benedict dancing in a drunken stupor.

  1. Visuals.

«Patrick Melrose» is full of its own aesthetic: in places bright and juicy, like the fruit on the trees that grows outside the luxurious Melrose villa, in places depressing and gloomy, highlighting the spiritual poverty of the individual characters (no spoilers).

Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.

The detailed interiors complement the style of the recreated time. The same applies to the choice of locations (the French countryside alone) and the costumes of the characters: together, they create a harmonious picture that is particularly pleasant to look at in natural, warm light.

sun was shining. What else was it supposed to do? - Patrick Melrose
The sun was shining. What else was it supposed to do? – Patrick Melrose
  1. The sound of music

The musical accompaniment to this story also leaves no one indifferent. The retro atmosphere here is not just in the picture, but also in the soundtracks. The pilot episode, for example, is accompanied by the Cat Stevens song «Wild world», as if preparing the viewer for a mental transport to a couple of decades ago. Except that as one gradually delves into Patrick’s childhood and learns details of his interactions with his parents, it becomes difficult to call the nostalgic mood evoked by the music a restful one.

A person can lose their mind because they are experiencing an emotion that they have to suppress. - Patrick Melrose
A person can lose their mind because they are experiencing an emotion that they have to suppress. – Patrick Melrose

The series also has a place for original soundtracks, with emotional responses ranging from anxious and disturbing to melancholy and alienating.

  1. A witty tragicomedy

Patrick’s story is a coherent narrative not only and not so much about the ways in which he destroys his ‘normal’ life, but about the reasons that have made the latter unbearable (primarily mentally). Melrose was born into a well-to-do aristocratic family, but his background and wealth did not make him happy. His mother’s indifference and his father’s unreasonable, perverted cruelty turned little Patrick’s life upside down for many years to come. The relationship within the family is a central theme of Berger’s mini-series, and one which all of us can feel particularly strongly about.

Forgiveness is an important thing, especially when you are forgiven. - Patrick Melrose
Forgiveness is an important thing, especially when you are forgiven. – Patrick Melrose

With each series, the life of the protagonist grows more and more hopelessly detailed.  Nevertheless, his story is presented in an interesting, even amusing and satirical way so that we want to watch it through to the end (even if it is psychologically difficult).

  1. A chance to compare the series’ experience with the books

The plot of the series is based on the series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, whose work is highly regarded by the performer of the title role. The series of books is called a modern classic, noting the author’s distinctive style with its inherent sincerity, impartiality and irony. It is important to note that the works about Patrick Melrose are largely autobiographical: their idea was inspired by real events in the life of St. Aubyn.

 

All that is known about the 2021 Grammys

Nominees, scandals, date, and new records

Reading time 5 minutes

The Grammy is the most prestigious music award in the world. Each year the National Academy holds an award ceremony. A jury of producers, sound engineers and musicians award the artists by voting. Each musician dreams about gaining at least a Grammy nomination. Here’s what you need to know about the 63rd Awards.

When and where?

The awards ceremony will be on 31of January at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It has been held there for 40 years, since the beginning of its broadcasting. It’s not yet clear what format the event will take: it all depends on whether the coronavirus situation in the U.S. worsens. «We will make a decision about the audience and the carpet closer to the date,» the Grammy website says. In addition, the names of the presenters and performing artists are unknown.

55th Grammy Awards, 2013

Beyoncé got the most nominations.

After the «Black is King» album released in July of this year the singer got 9 nominations. Now Beyonce has 79 nominations and 24 statuettes. If she wins 8 more, it will be the record-breaking quantity of Grammys. In addition to Beyonce Dua Lipa (5) and Billie Eilish (4) lead the way in the number of nominations.

A still from Beyoncé’s visual album «Black is King» 2020

BTS’s first serious nomination

BTS is a Korean boys band that continues to break records and conquer the West. The guys finally received Academy recognition and a nomination for «Best Pop Duo/Group Performance» for their song «Dynamite». Their hit topped the Billboard Hot 100 music chart for two weeks. BTS will compete for the statuette with other pop stars: Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift.
The band did not receive a nomination for «Best Album», although their release «Map of the Soul: 7» was recognized as the best-selling album in the first half of 2020.

BTS on the carpet at the 62nd Grammy Awards, 2020

The Weeknd vs. the Grammys

This year’s announcement of nominees was not without scandal. The Weeknd did not receive any of the nominations and accused the Academy jury of corruption. There really is the reason for doubt: the album by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd’s real name) exploded all the charts and received critical acclaim. It’s all the more strange that the singer’s work has been ignored.
Abel shared his thoughts on his Instagram page. «The Grammys are still corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry in general», he wrote. Drake, Ariana Grande and Halsey supported the performer and agreed with his words

The Weeknd’s «After Hours» album cover, 2020

Russians in the West

Two musicians from Russia received nominations at once. Pianist Daniil Trifonov will compete for the award for «Best Solo Instrumental Classical Music Work» for his performance of Rachmaninov. The second, conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, was in the «Best Opera Recording» category. Leonid Agutin, who originally applied for five categories, received no nominations after the Academy vote.

Daniil Trifonov was nominated in the category «Best Classical Instrumental Solo Work»

Hogwarts doesn’t exist, the Dursleys are good, and Dumbledore is Death

Recalling fan theories on the anniversary of the last Harry Potter movie

Reading time 6 minutes

The Wizarding World stories premiered exactly ten years ago. Over the course of the franchise’s existence, fans have come up with theories, some of which completely overturn the usual story of the magical world.

Neville is the Chosen One

One of the most argued theories is that Harry was never the Chosen One. The real savior of Magical Britain is Neville. Although bumbling loser Longbottom doesn’t look like a superhero, he could have been the Boy Who Survived. According to the prophecy of Voldemort’s demise, the wizard will be killed by a boy born in July. Also, the child must be part of a family that has defied the Dark Lord three times. Not only do the Potters fit the description, but also the Longbottom. Why Tom Riddle decided it was Harry who would destroy him is not clear. Perhaps the wizard wanted to deal with Neville and his family after but did not have time.

Further events of the story also make you doubt Harry’s selectivity. The prophecy says that the child has a special gift. Potter had no gift (the boy’s knowledge of the snake language was passed down from Voldemort), but Neville had a strong knowledge of herbalism.

Theory #1: Neville is the Chosen One

Harry, Severus and Tom Riddle are brothers in the «Deathly Hallows» tale

The tale is about three brothers. Death gives them the Elder Wand, the Cloak of Invisibility, and the Resurrection Stone. Harry, Severus, and He-Who-No-Name resemble the Peverell brothers. Voldemort wishes to get his wand so he can wield power like his older brother. Snape, the middle one, is obsessed with the love of a dead woman. Harry wields the Cloak of Invisibility, which makes him look like the younger brother.

If you follow this theory, Death is Dumbledore. The Professor is the only one who possessed all the Hallows. Also, when Harry is killed by the Dark Lord, it is Albus who waits for him and meets him as an “old friend.” – Another reference to the fairy tale.

Theory # 2: Harry, Severus and Tom Riddle are brothers in the «Deathly Hallows» tale

Draco is in love with Hermione

Many fans believe that Draco was in love with Hermione. He was always bullying the girl, calling her a «filthy dirty girl» following on the heels of the Golden Trio, all to get Granger’s attention. This behavior was caused by the fact that Malfoy grew up in a family where Muggles were considered the scum of society, but the boy himself thought otherwise. The version about the Slytherin’s crush is common among fans of movies because there Draco is shown as a deeper and more compassionate person.

Theory #3: Draco is in love with Hermione

Harry is to blame for the bad temper of the Dursleys

In the books, the Dursley family had a strong dislike for the Boy-who-survived. Harry lived in a closet, subjected to insults and hard labor. There is a theory: the character of the relatives was influenced by Potter, or rather by Voldemort’s Horcrux imprisoned in the wizard.

In «Deathly Hallows» Harry, Hermione and Ron wore a locket around their necks – part of the Dark Lord’s soul. The teenagers were negatively influenced by black magic: they argued, fought, were aggressive. The theory is that Harry’s presence had the same effect on the Dursleys. Although this assumption does not explain why the boy did not influence his friends and other wizards in his surroundings.

Theory #4: Harry is to blame for the Dursleys’ bad temper

Harry made up the world of magic

What if there is no magic world? That’s probably the saddest theory. Its proponents are certain that Harry never left the house on Tees Street, never received a letter from Hogwarts, and never fought Voldemort. The boy-who-survived- made it all up, and the fantasy is an attempt to escape the brutal reality. The writer believes this viewpoint fits into the original story.

Theory #5: Harry made up the world of magic

 

 

Seven Lives of Sherlock Holmes

The most famous images of the detective in cinematography

Reading time 7 minutes

Sherlock is a character created by English writer Arthur Conan Doyle. Consulting detective lives in Victorian London on Baker Street and helps Scotland Yard police in solving crimes. Works about the adventures of Holmes and Dr. Watson have become classics of the detective genre, and screenings are still successful.

The first film adaptation is considered to be a thirty-second silent movie «Sherlock Holmes Baffled». The short sketch was premiered in May 1900. The names of the actors are unknown. The only copy was lost until it was restored by cards in 1968. «Baffled» is the first detective in the history of cinematography.

«Sherlock Holmes Baffled» // Frame from the restored film of 1900

The most popular screen adaptation among the Russian public is the Soviet series with Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin in the lead roles. The series «The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson» was released in 1979-1986 and consisted of eleven episodes. The plot was based on stories «A Study in Pink», «The Final Problem», «The Hound of the Baskervilles».

The TV series was appreciated abroad: the film critic Alan Barnes in his book «Sherlock Holmes on the screen» (1999) wrote that the detective performed by Livanov is the best of all time.

Frame from the Soviet series «The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson»

In 1970 the American film «The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes» was released. Oscar-winning director Billy Wilder worked on the picture, and the main character was played by British Robert Stevenson. Holmes and Watson visit the ball of Russian ballerina and bathe in women’s attention. Unlike his3 friend, Sherlock is not glad about this arrangement. At the same time, a standard detective line develops: the detective investigates the case of the disappearance of the man. The search brings the heroes to Loch Ness Lake.

Frame from «The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes»

«Sherlock Holmes» by Guy Ritchie was released in 2009, two years later – a continuation under the title «Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows» . The characters of the detective and the doctor were performed by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. The friends save London from Moriarty’s plans and investigate terrorist attacks. Critics praised the screening, and the first film was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The third part of the franchise will be released in 2021.

Frame from «Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows»

«Sherlock» (2010) by the BBC is probably the most unusual of all. The action takes place not in Victorian England, but in the modern one. John Watson (Martin Freeman) blogs about his friend instead of notes. The image of Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, turned out to be extraordinary. Sherlock calls himself a «highly active sociopath», fights against drug addiction and denies the existence of feelings and emotions. The main antipode of the detective is James Moriarty.

At the moment, 4 seasons and a special episode  «The Abominable Bride» have been released. It is not known whether there will be a continuation.

Poster for the fourth season of «Sherlock» by the British company BBC

In 2012, CBS offered to the producers of the British «Sherlock» with a proposal to make a remake. The BBC refused to sell the copyrights, so the company created a TV series from scratch. «Elementary» was released in September of the same year.

Holmes comes to New York for treatment in a rehabilitation center and remains to work as a police consultant. Joanne Watson – in this adaptation the doctor became a girl – supervises the detective.

«Elementary» // Sherlock (John Lee Miller) and Joan (Lucy Lew)

«Enola Holmes» is an online platform project created by Netflix, released in autumn. Producer and main actress – 16-year-old Millie Bobby Brown. The focus is not on Sherlock, but his teenage sister Enola. The image of the detective turned out to be interesting, though not canonical. In the story Mycroft, Sherlock and Enola are looking for their missing mother.

«Enola Holmes» // Enola (Millie) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill)
«Enola Holmes» // Enola (Millie) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill)

There was also a scandal: Doyle’s heirs sued on Netflix. In their opinion, the producers used stories that are not yet in the public domain.

Angels and “demons”: did aliens really contact saints?

Depictions of UFOs in Christian churches and pictures since the 11th century

Reading time 4 minutes

Did the humans descend from Adam and Eve? Not quite, some of the researchers say. We can see an increasing amount of assertions and so-called “facts” that human beings are under the control of aliens.  Some ufologists state that extraterrestrials allegedly contact some of us. However, the Church’s official representatives do not just reject all these statements but even a theoretical possibility of such kind of “interaction” between a man and “beings from other planets and not just”. Why does the Church with so much vigor try to “retain its monopoly” on the Human Origins?

2014 almost the whole scientific community was curious about an unusual finding. A strange fresco with a supposedly depicted flying saucer was found in a Romanian church. Moreover, the same kind of enigmatic inscription from the Bible was written at the bottom of the image in German: “Israel hoffe auf den herrn” (“O Israel, hope in the Lord”). Apart of a flying saucer, in this story we face 2 more additional mysterious facts:

  1. The fresco dates from the 14th century and there is an original line in German, although Bible was translated by Martin Luther only in 1522.
  2. At that time there lived the ruler of Wallachia Vlad II who was father of Vlad the Impaler also known as Vlad Dracula.
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)

One more similar discovery happened in 2017 in Georgia. There, during the reconstruction of the church, scientists found the mural painting of 12 apostles and Jesus during the crucifixion dating from the 11th century. At the top of the picture one may see 2 unknown flying objects which resemble alien spaceships.

"Crucifixion of Jesus" on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)
“Crucifixion of Jesus” on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)

Two other images of the Jesus’ crucifixion with flying saucers being present are the “Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani dating from the 14th century and a picture “La Tebaide” created  by Paolo Uccello (1396-1475) .

“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)   

So, what do the Church’s officials say about the “extraterrestrial contact” and existence of other civilizations beyond Solar system?

Regardless of being Orthodox and Catholics, Jews or Evangelicals priests are convinced that all the information from so-called witnesses is nothing else as a part of their vivid imaginations, nightmares or even a proof of their sinfulness and connection with the devil.

One of the most logic explanations of such kind of Church servants’ reaction is just a lack of this sort of information in holy scriptures. The Church fears to lose its impact on people, its dominating presence in people’s life in terms of accepting the fact of existence of more developed and powerful forces. It fears to get a lower rank position in people’s world outlook and as a consequence a loss of its respect and authority.

"Baptism of Christ" Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)
“Baptism of Christ” Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)

Anyway, it looks a bit illogical from priests’ side that in view of the absence of information they do preserve only a negative attitude regarding flying saucers as they are depicted in temples near saints and not in a “hostile” way. Why in case of their existence cannot they be helpful to us?

A good example of it is a depiction of Moses receiving commandments from God. It is a world-famous fresco which is placed on one of the walls of the Belgian Cathedral Conti Dotremond.

A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown
A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown

It depends on you whether believe or not in aliens and their possible “visits” to our planet but in no case we have a right to accuse somebody to be inadequate, mentally ill or “linked to the Lucifer” as it sometimes happens. Nevertheless, we should not trust everyone who has seen “them” as too many people create stories for different reasons.

Theatricality in Cinema

What is the relationship between these two arts

Reading time 4 minutes

What makes the languages of theater and cinema so different but at the same time so good complement each other?

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the cinema and theater is that the first one is fragmented. To achieve the desired effect, the director can use many takes – he has a few chances to «replay» the planned. But the viewer has no opportunity to «touch» the action. Film production and the process of consumption of the finished product by the viewer are separated in time.

«Stop! Cut!»

On the contrary, theatrical processes are continuous. The performance implies constant interaction with the viewer, who acts as a «creator». The degree of influence of production depends mainly on the audience involvement, its concentration on what is happening «here and now».

The theater is the art of reflecting (c) Konstantin Stanislavsky

The degree of the conventionality of both cinema and theater is closely connected with communication (mainly non-verbal) between actors and audience. The emotional connection of the viewer is a necessary condition. The theater aims to unite actors and spectators in a single spiritual effort. But both cinema and theater strive to lead us to a state of “secondary belief” – appealing to our personal experiences, associations, and feelings. We empathize with the characters, project the events and behavior of the characters on themselves, interpret meanings, and rethink what we see.

Another important feature is the illusion of reality, and in cinema, it is much higher than in the theater. The director is able to recreate almost any historical epoch, and modern technology makes this task much easier. In the theater, all «special effects» are built-in, and the main mechanisms of influence are the actor’s mimicry and scenery. Spatial restrictions (stage frames) also have an effect.

Cinema should make the viewer forget that he is sitting in the movie (c) Roman Polanski

There are films that are on the verge of theater and cinema. «Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead»(1990, directed by Tom Stoppard) and «Anna Karenina» (2012, directed by Joe Wright) are interpretations of classics in which the artistic possibilities of theater and cinema complement each other.

In the first of them, the techniques of anachronism, demonstrative violation of sequence and visual citation (these resources give the cinema) are combined with the involvement of the heroes-observers in the course of the action: the world for them at some point becomes theater, they move to the stage, in the heart of Shakespeare’s «Hamlet» – so there is an external conditionality (theatrical feature).

There are two ways to become an artist. The first is to do what everyone thinks is art. Second: to make everyone think that what you are doing is art (c) Tom Stoppard

In the second – we meet the excessive acting mimicry and live plasticity, striking the splendor of scenery (the illusion of the place) with the effect of «behind the scenes» (in the design of the back of the stage).

Shootings of the film “Anna Karenina” (2012, directed by Joe Wright)

Another interesting example is «The Hateful Eight» (2015). Quentin Tarantino borrows from the theater a method of narrative division into acts: the film consists of chapters, each of which becomes our «guide» in a confusing, dark, and bloody story. Interesting here is the mise-en-scene transferred from theatricality, designed to reflect all the components of the inner life of the heroes, resulting in a struggle between them – both on the moral and ethical as well as physical levels.

«They don’t come here without a good reason»…

The theater has something to offer to the film industry – the possibilities of its language, if used by the director correctly and appropriately, are really able to make a film brighter visually and deeper – in the sense.

«Requiem for a Dream»: a manual for a drug addict or a tragic and beautiful story?

The anniversary of a cult movie is the time to review and rethink.

Reading time 11 minutes

In 2020 the film «Requiem for a Dream» celebrated its 20th anniversary. On the occasion of the jubilee, Darren Aronofsky decided to release the director’s version of the film in 4K on October 13. We decided to remember the film, which is familiar to virtually everyone and discuss our impressions.

«Requiem for a Dream» on the screens again (source: KinoPoisk).

The plot

Female perspective

The plot of the film is quite simple. Aronofsky presents us four main characters: Mrs. Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and their mutual friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). From the first minutes of the film we learn that each of them has a certain dream: Sara Goldfarb wants to do a popular TV show, Harold and Tyrone are eager to get rich, and Marion sees herself as the owner of a designer store. There is a weighty obstacle between the heroes and their goals – drugs. Addiction becomes the main obstacle to the dream, making all their plans unattainable. All plotlines are brought to a logical end: four heroes pass through summer, autumn and winter. Their destinies are gradually collapsing, and at the end of the film the tragedy reaches its climax. The director managed to find the balance between the storylines and to reveal each character to the full extent.

Carefree “summer” Harry and Tyrone, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

I would not agree with my colleague. Yes, each of the heroes has a dream, but it is not what Aronofsky brings to the surface of the plot. The problem is not drugs, but that the characters are too deep in dreams and illusions because of weak will. Yes, Marion dreams of creating her own clothing brand, but take into account the financial situation of her parents. If the girl behaved more seriously, they would support her endeavor. But is it the main thing for her? In fact, Marion herself wants to spend her life next to Harry and to realize herself. The last one, in a very distorted form, she gets at the end of the film. Yes, Harold and Tyrone dream of a «pound of cleansing» (453 grams of pure heroin) and wealth. Is this what they live for? No! It is important for Harry to be with Marion. She was the first person he thought about during the amputation of his hand. His meaning of life was Marion, not money and drugs. He dreamed that she would succeed in the fashion industry and become truly happy. Tyrone wants to become a significant person in society and is ready to do everything for his «ideal» future. This is shown in a scene where he enthusiastically agrees to work for a drug lord for money and status. In reality, each of them just wants to find his place in life. The drugs in «Requiem for a Dream» are a metaphorical curtain on the window. Heroes dream of getting into the street, but do not go out. They prefer to draw the curtain and not to think that there is a neat yard outside their room. And because they «pull the curtain» regularly, they forget about the existence of the world around them.

Acting

Female perspective

The selection of actors in this film was, as it seems to me, extremely scrupulous. Aronofsky approved for the role of those who will immediately arouse the sympathy of the audience. While watching the film, the characters are not disgusted, but rather compassionate. This is a very well thought out move. Of all the cast, the most memorable is Ellen Burstyn. Her heroine gave me the creeps.

Ellen Burstyn as Sara, frame from the film (source: Yandex Zen).

Men’s view

It’s hard to argue that the cast is definitely beyond any criticism. I would especially like to mention Jennifer Connelly. If the theme of drugs is far from your worldview, the motivation to continue watching will be the charming beauty and stunning game of the main character.

Directing and production

Female perspective

The film was filmed beautifully. Colors, frame staging, scenery and views – all in the same style, pleasing to the eye. The business card of the film is the famous splices of the frames, embodying the use of substances. The film is imbued with the aesthetics of that time and society. The strongest scene is shown at the end of the film picture, where all four heroes lie in the embryo position, embodying their helplessness.

Tyrone in embryo position, frame from film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

Stunning «Hip-hop» montage from Aronofsky and just an unreal number of splices! The ingenious breakdown of the film into seasons reminds «The Seasons» by Vivaldi. Montage allows us to feel the pace and rhythm of what is happening and it is the «heart» of the picture and sets the movement. However, I did not have enough flowers in this picture. Perhaps more daring solutions could add extra vividness to what is happening.

Overall impression

Female perspective

The film undoubtedly contains strong scenes that show how harmful drugs are to physical and mental health. Accordingly, the message is quite simple and clear: if there were no heroin and amphetamine heroes in life, everything would be perfect. The disadvantage of this picture is the certainty that none of the heroes will be able to live a normal life and cope with their addiction which has developed since the very first scenes. Therefore, the whole film turns into waiting for the fatal outcome, which will be a disaster for all characters. «Requiem for a Dream», in my opinion, lacked the unpredictability of the plot that Uli Edel was able to create in the film «Christiane F ».

Harry and Marion, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s View

I did not have enough beautiful, bright, carefree scenes «in summer», I would like more colors. Moreover, the heroes are so often «high»!
Another factor that slightly embarrassed me was the lack of noticeable contrast in the scenes starting from autumn.
I definitely liked the plot structure based on the extremes. If you need a «dope», it is impossible to get it in more than eight million city (the film is set in one of the districts of New York – Brooklyn). Therefore, the heroes go in search not just in a neighboring city or state, but in Florida, the distance to which is more than 8500 km! However, to me, it gives additional dynamics, and in combination with the installation looks organic.

Social significance 

Female perspective

«Requiem for a Dream» is among the 250 best movies. The movie by Aronofsky is considered cult because it shows the drug addiction of the present. «Requiem for a Dream» does not romanticize drugs, it shows how substances break destinies. There is a tendency for all movies or series that mention drug addiction to become quite popular (e.g., TV series «Euphoria», «Eagles», «Elite» and «13 Reasons why»). Is it necessary to show the topic of drug use in movies? Why not? But only as long as the mentioning does not turn into the propaganda of such a lifestyle. By the way, Russian psychologists have noticed that «Requiem for a Dream» has psychotherapeutic properties and allows to fight harmful habits.

Ellen Burstyn on filming (source: Tvkinoradio)

Men’s view

I do not think it is correct to compare this picture with work like «Euphoria», too different contexts. In «Requiem for a Dream», drugs are used as one of the connecting elements of all heroes. The «dope» increases rapidly, time runs faster, and the situation in which the heroes drive themselves becomes increasingly desperate.
Drug propaganda is a bad thing. However, take, for example, the cult movie «Dazed and Confused», which is famous in the USA. Throughout the whole time the heroes «get high» and this is what makes it possible to recreate the atmosphere corresponding to the film’s idea. In this way the director helps the viewer to feel the epoch (the action takes place in the USA in the 70s). Aronofsky also uses drugs in the frame to make the viewer experience emotions. The film’s author tries to convey to us: «Live here and now, not in illusions. Act, be yourself and everything can work out».

Valentino’s collection is not on the catwalk but in the cinema

The fashion Brand collaborated with Luca Guadagnino, a film director

Reading time 3 minutes

This month a short drama “The Staggering Girl” directed by Luca Guadagnino  (also “Call Me By Your Name”, “Suspria”) will be released. It was inspired by Valentino’s couture collections 2018-2019. Julianne Moore is a leading actor, but Valentino’s ensembles come to the forefront of Luca’s favorite cameraman, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. The movie can be easily taken into screenshots and printed, for example, in Vogue.

After attending Valentino’s Couture Spring 2018 fashion show, Guadagnino got the idea of filming something equally amazing with his fellow countryman, Pierpaolo Piccioli. Piccioli, in his own words, dreamed of becoming a filmmaker when he was young, so, the idea of turning the “stream of consciousness” (as he describes the couture collection of spring 2018) into a movie, found the most lively response from the designer.

Guadagnino’s passionate romance with fashion has been known for a long time. For example, director’s favorite actress Tilda Swinton wore Raf Simons twice: for the movie “Io sono l’amore”, and for “A Bigger Splash”. Guadagnino’s hobby resulted in the creation of the Frenesy Film company, which specializes in collaborations with fashion brands. Its portfolio includes short films for Giorgio Armani, Sergio Rossi, Cartier and Salvatore Ferragamo. The latest documentary named “Walking Stories” came out last fall. It was based on designer’s autobiography.

At the same time, “The Staggering girl”, which is formally a short film (37 minutes), Guadagnino designates it as an artistic picture with a plot, and not just an elegant fashion film. The story unfolds around the New York city. The main actress, Francesca Moretti (Julianne Moore), is a writer, daughter of German-Italian artist Sofia Moretti. Francesca goes to Rome to persuade an aging and going blind mother to move in with her, but, once visiting the long-abandoned home, she is immersed in memories. Guadagnino and Piccioli encoded the state of mind of their heroine using the color and style of clothing that she wears.

 Top 3 most eloquent outfits from the movie

BLACK FULL SKIRT DRESS WITH A SLIT UP THE SIDES, COUTURE COLLECTION SPRING 2018

 Francesca, despite her Italian origin, is a true New Yorker: she lives in a Spartan setting and dresses appropriately. Her clothes are exclusively dark, whether it is an oversize black palazzo pants with a turtleneck and an oversize coat or a chic evening satin dress with shoulder-length gloves. Wearing this drees, she appears at her friend’s house party, where she sees a picture on the wall, reminding her of the mother.

LUSH RED OFF-THE-SHOULDER DRESS , COUTURE COLLECTION FALL 2018

Scarlet is the color which Francesca associates with her mother. Young Sophia Moretti is played by Mia Goth, another Guadagnino’s favorite actress. They worked together on “Suspiria”. When Francesca is immersed in childhood memories, she sees her mother as a lady of society. She likes to party or spending time in front of the easel. Her mother wears velvet and sequins or a lush scarlet off-the-shoulder dress – Valentino’s classic. It appears on the catwalk in different variations from year to year.

AZURE CAPE WITH SATIN APPLICATIONS, FALL 2018 COUTURE COLLECTION

A luxurious cape embroidered with satin applications and a gold edging is the brightest item, both in the movie wardrobe and in Valentino’s Couture collection fall 2018. According to Piccioli, Greek myths served as inspiration for the collection, especially, the one about Leda and the swan.

Salvador Dali exhibition through the Curator’s eyes

A win-win combination for the immortal glory

Reading time 4 minutes

On January, 28, the large exhibition “Salvador Dali. Magical art ” opened its doors to the public in Moscow Manege. Everyone, like Elvis Presley, knows him. Thanks to bewitching paintings, mustache sharp as rapiers and a laid-back walk with an anteater. Painter, graphic artist, fashion designer, sculptor, performer and animator, he staged the ballet “Mad Tristan” and painted the ChupaChups logo, without changing himself.

Monsa Ager, the director of the Dali Museum, helped us to understand better the blossoming complexity of the creator.

In search of immortality

I would call Dali a true universal creator: an artist, graphic artist, sculptor, someone who can translate reality into a completely different plane. But first of all, he is a painter. Interested in classicism, the Renaissance, science, mysticism, he was able to achieve a triumph in surrealism, but did not stop there. He worked with well-known fashion houses, painted the covers of magazines and created jewelry.

He was a humble man who understood that creating a shocking image was simply necessary for his art. All his life, a struggle of becoming as good as his brother, followed him. His name was also Salvador (he died nine months before the birth of the future artist). In his autobiography, Salvador Dali wrote that he had been searching for real faith all his life, but never found a suitable one. Science gave more answers, considering that the artist aspired to immortality. And working on his art, he earned the immortality.

Dali’s secret is kept in the ability to reflect the anxieties of people, their dreams and fears in a very realistic way. When you look at the work of Salvador, you always see elements that cause discomfort, it is impossible to look at them calmly. So, the artist provokes the viewer to play a game. He arouses curiosity. At first glance, it seems that everything is clear in the picture, but then we go deeper and deeper into this tricky game, noticing all the new elements, details and symbols. As a result, the artist leads us into this complex maze and leaves us alone with ourselves and our thoughts. And whether you get out of this labyrinth or not, it is up you.

Symbols

Clock is a favorite Dali’s symbol. The artist was fascinated by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The shape of the clock in his work is fluid and unstable. It shows the master’s interest in the contrast between the soft and hard state of the object.

The Persistence of Memory, 1931
The Persistence of Memory, 1931

The perspective plays a very important role in all Dali’s works. It is an indicator of both time and the depth of a person’s subconscious.

Double images are constantly hidden on his canvases. Perhaps most often they appear as a self-portrait of the artist. This is probably a type of narcissism: Dali was constantly ill in childhood, so he was given a lot of attention – family, doctors, relatives – he still had a need for constant care until his death.

The Invisible Man, 1929-1933
The Invisible Man, 1929-1933

A face with an airplane is the image of a just dropped atomic bomb, which instantly explodes in the right corner, right next to a clock twisted into a tube and a human figure. It instantly affects the world, the passage of time and a human life. Other watches are leaning against the head. They flow down, hinting that the idea of the length of time after the appearance of the atomic bomb has changed.

Melancholy Atomic, 1945
Melancholy Atomic, 1945

Tears, a sad blue face and shadows demonstrate the artist’s attempt to find a place for his art in a new world.

Cracked elements such as vases, clocks, columns represent unbearable human pain.

Color and the turn of the head are homage to Diego Velazquez. Dali turned to his works quite often in the last period of the career.

Seated Figure Contemplating a 'Great Tapeworm Masturbator', 1981
Seated Figure Contemplating a ‘Great Tapeworm Masturbator’, 1981

Vertical figures in the background are cypress trees, which the hero of the picture (presumably Salvador Dali himself) reproduces from his childhood memories. He saw them through the window at school.

The male figure on the left – Dali himself, young, twenty-year-old. His whole life is yet to come. Light stripes symbolize good memories from life, dark ones – awareness of the inevitable end.

Portrait of Gala with Rhinocerotic Symptoms, 1954
Portrait of Gala with Rhinocerotic Symptoms, 1954

Recognizable features of Gala can also be considered as a certain symbol – inexhaustible love, passion, inspiration and sex. They appear in his works throughout his entire life – sometimes with a naked torso, then with a portrait, sometimes she is only taken apart into elements – but Gala is always recognizable.

 

Theatricality in Cinema

What is the relationship between these two arts

Reading time 6 minutes

What makes the languages of theater and cinema so different but at the same time so well complement each other?

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the cinema and theater is that the first one is fragmented. To achieve the desired effect, a director can use many takes – he has a few chances to «replay» the planned. But the viewer has no opportunity to «touch» the action. A film producing process and viewer’s consuming of a finished product process are separated in time.

«Stop! Cut!»

On the contrary, theatrical processes are continuous. The performance implies constant interaction with the viewer who acts as a «creator». The degree of influence of a play depends mainly on the audience involvement, its concentration on what is happening «here and now».

Theater is the art of reflecting (c) Konstantin Stanislavsky

The degree of the conventionality of both cinema and theater is closely connected with communication (mainly non-verbal) between actors and audience. The emotional involvement of the viewer is a necessary condition. The theater aims to unite actors and spectators in a single spiritual effort. But both cinema and theater strive to lead us to a state of “secondary belief” – appealing to our personal experiences, associations, and feelings. We empathize with characters, project the events and behavior of the characters on themselves, interpret meanings, and rethink what we have seen.

Another important feature is the illusion of reality, and in cinema, it is much stronger than in the theater. A director is able to recreate almost any historical epoch, and what is more, modern technology makes this task much easier. In the theater, all «special effects» are built-in, and the main mechanisms of influence are the actors’ mimicry and scenery. Spatial restrictions (stage frames) also have an effect.

Cinema should make the viewer forget that he is sitting in the movie (c) Roman Polanski

There are films that are on the verge of theater and cinema. «Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead»(1990, directed by Tom Stoppard) and «Anna Karenina» (2012, directed by Joe Wright) are interpretations of classics in which the artistic possibilities of theater and cinema complement each other.

In the first of them, the techniques of anachronism, demonstrative violations of sequence and visual citation (these resources are given by the cinema) are combined with the involvement of the heroes-observers in the course of action: the world for them at some point becomes theater, they move to the stage, in the heart of Shakespeare’s «Hamlet» – that is how an external consistency (theatrical feature) occurs.

There are two ways to become an artist. The first is to do what everyone thinks is art. Second: to make everyone think that what you are doing is art (c) Tom Stoppard

In the second one we meet the excessive body language and lively plasticity, striking with the splendor of scenery (the illusion of the site) with the «backstage» effect (in the design of the rear of the stage).

Shootings of the film “Anna Karenina” (2012, directed by Joe Wright)

Another interesting example is «The Hateful Eight» (2015). Quentin Tarantino borrows from the theater a method of narrative division into acts: the film consists of chapters, each of which becomes our «guide» in a confusing, dark, and bloody story. Interesting here are the mise-en-scenes transferred from theatricality, intended to reflect all the components of the inner life of the heroes, resulting in a struggle between them – as on the moral and ethical as on physical levels.

«They don’t come here without a good reason…»

The theater has something to offer to the film industry –its language possibilities if used correctly and appropriately by directors, which are really able to make a film more saturated visually and deeper in meaning.