Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quirky Storytellers

A couple of quirky storytellers: Miranda July and Cédric Klapisch

I heard David Sedaris read a Miranda July short story on those fantastic New Yorker fiction podcasts. And so I sought her very good book of short stories: No One Belongs Here More Than You

And she’s a film maker too. Saw The Future (2011) which had some interesting parts, including an irresistible bit of opening dialogue between a couple:
‘Could you get me some water?’
‘I wasn’t getting up, I was just changing positions.’

As for Cédric Klapisch, I recently re-watched the ‘cult classics’ L'Auberge Espagnole, about Xavier, a young Frenchie played by Romain Duris (whom Klapisch discovered before he had considered acting), and the people he meets on an Erasmus Program in Barcelona, and its sequel Russian Dolls (and a third installment in currently being filmed!). 

And damn, they are so good! There’s a part I love in Russian Dolls where Xavier is trying to write a love story, and soap opera clichés continuously run through his head…
There’s something you don’t know about me, I’m broke, and I’m having an affair, and I have a twin brother… actually, I am the twin…

The tragedy of romance is unraveled, as is the lure of desire and the idea of perfect beauty, ‘Life is so short, of course we want to spend it on the street of perfect dimensions.’

Looked at Klapisch’s other films. The earlier stuff is fun, what’s consistent throughout is the fun and enthusiasm in the storytelling; and the more recent Paris (2008) is very good. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked it so much on its own, but it sits alongside Klapisch’s other life-affirming films nicely.

Then I read a negative review saying Klapisch can ‘only do light and breezy.’ Well, Paris is about the not so light and breezy subject of a dying man, who isn't bitter about his fatal illness, but is suddenly in awe at the world and can't stop watching people through his window and thinking about their stories. 

Also, making something seem ‘light and breezy’ can be the hardest thing to do. It’s easier to display quality in something heavy and dramatic because it’s drawing on certain emotions. Polanski famously changed the ending to the script of Chinatown, making the story more tragic, and said, ‘That’s why it stays with you, that’s why we're still talking about it today.’ Keep a happy ending, you might be pleased, but you can forget the story shortly afterward. How many classic/ beautiful comedies that appeal to many and stand the test of time are out there? Not many.
On the Paris soundtrack, I discovered the beautiful music of Artur Nunes

…an interesting character, part of a very interesting music scene. The following was taken from the garb below the above youtube clip:
More on the amazing Angolan scene of the early 1970s:
Angolan pop music in the '60s became an affirmation of national and African identity in the face of severe repression from Portuguese colonial authorities, we're talking concentration camp stays for major musicians, the root forms coalesced into a new, distinctly Angolan mix by the 1970s.

...the country's best-known figure, Bonga, has lived in exile since the '70s and Zé, de Castro, and Nunes all died during the post-independence factional infighting, military rebellion, and civil war of mid-'70s Angola. Can't help but make you think about what might have been. - Don Snowden

More on Autur Nunes here

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