Wednesday, October 24, 2012

'L'Eclisse' (1962)

One salient stylistic feature that struck me about this film was its sparse use of music. Aside from the Italian song, followed by the eerie orchestra music playing during the opening credits of the film, music does not appear until about a half hour into the film, when we hear the diegetic African drum beats on the record player. The next time we hear diegetic music is about 45 minutes into the film, coming from the stereophonic at the bar at the landing strip. Around an hour and a half in, we hear the upbeat diegetic music of a pianist while Vittoria (Monica Vitti)and Piero (Alain Delon) are walking through the park, although this music is carried over and becomes non-diegetic as they run through the park. About ten minutes later, non-diegetic piano music returns, but this music is sad and eerie, as Vittoria turns around to see that Piero is not standing in the street; he has disappeared. About an hour and 45 minutes in we hear the diegetic music of the same Italian song from the opening credits playing in Piero's bedroom. About ten minutes later we hear eerie orchestra music similar to the opening credits and the moment in the street when Vittoria sees that Piero is gone. This same eerie music plays at the end of the film, when we are shown that Vittoria and Piero's meeting place is empty; neither of them have shown up. This music gets loudest during the last shot of the lamp post, finalizing that it is now dark and late, much past their meeting time, and that neither are ever going to show up.

I think the dramatic sparseness of music during the film serves to not only emphasize the importance of the rare moments when music is used, but also to emphasize the emptiness of the characters’ lives when music is not used. The African drum beats, the stereophonic sound at the landing strip, the upbeat pianist, and the Italian song all mark moments when Vittoria is relatively happy during the film. When she is with her friends, looking at beautiful landscapes, dressing up and joking around; after she flies on the plane with her friends and sees aerial scenery; when she and Piero are carefree and messing around in the park; when she explores Piero's childhood apartment and bedroom. Yet, the times when the dark and eerie orchestra music is used all mark moments when Vittoria is brought back to the emptiness of her life and the realization that she doesn't know what she wants or who she wants because she is incapable of truly being in love.

One eloquent feature that struck me about the film was its juxtaposition of chaotic stock exchange scenes with quiet, landscape scenes (both portraits and real locations). There are many shots of landscape portraits of exotic and beautiful places in Vittoria's friend’s apartment, which obviously intrigue Vittoria. There are also many shots of the architecture in Rome: the aerial views from the plane, the shots of different places throughout the city, the park, as well as many sites of uncompleted architecture and construction. These quiet, serene shots are contrasted with the loudness and disorder of the stock exchange. I believe that it is through these scenes that Vittoria's incompatibility with Piero becomes clear. 'You never stand still,' she tells him. He is a cog in the stock market machine, and he can never stop, or the whole machine will collapse. Whereas Vittoria does not wish to be a part of some system, she does not want to play the part of the doting wife. She does not want to simply be a role.

* Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

Friday, October 19, 2012

Emmanuelle : The Final Chapter

Dutch actress, Sylvia Kristel (1952 – 2012) died of cancer at age 60.
Kristel, was a model who turned to acting, who had performed in over
50 movies, but was best known for playing the titular character in four
of the seven erotic, 1970s 'Emmanuelle' films. She had been fighting
cancer for several years.
Kristel was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, the elder daughter of an
innkeeper, Jean-Nicholas Kristel, and his wife. In her 2006 autobiography,
'Nue', she claims to have been sexually abused by an elderly guest at
the hotel at the age of nine, an event which she has refused to discuss
in detail.
Her breakthrough came in 1974 in 'Emmanuelle', the erotic tale directed
by Frenchman Just Jaeckin, about the sexual adventures of a man and his
beautiful young wife in Thailand. She later hit the US market with the
success of 1981's 'Private Lessons'.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'Habitat 67'

'Habitat 67' is a model community and housing complex in Montreal,
Canada designed by Israeli–Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. It was
originally conceived as his master's thesis in architecture at
McGill University and then built as a pavilion for Expo 67, the
World's Fair held from April to October 1967.
Safdie's design for 'Habitat 67' began as a thesis project for his
architecture program at McGill University. It was 'highly recognized'
at the institution. 'Habitat 67' comprises 354 identical, prefabricated
concrete forms arranged in various combinations, reaching up to 12
storeys in height. Together these units create 146 residences of
varying sizes and configurations, each formed from between one to
eight linked concrete units. The complex originally contained 158
apartments, but several apartments have since been joined to create
larger units, reducing the total number... and each unit is connected
to at least one private terrace.
It is located at 2600 Avenue Pierre-Dupuy on the Marc-Drouin Quay
next to the Saint Lawrence River. 'Habitat 67' is widely considered
an architectural landmark and one of the most recognizable and
significant buildings in both Montreal and Canada.
I have very dear friends who have lived there since the early 1980s'
and the inside of these units are just as eclectic as the outisde...