Tag Archives: movie

Authenticity

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Many will recognise the cadence and application of these words, yet among the greatest human debates – following ‘why am I here?’ and ‘is there a god?’ – is the question of what is truth. As some have argued, truth is merely that which is perceived by each individual, thus allowing even conflicting stories and fantastic mythologies all to be ‘true’. There’s some philosophy for your morning coffee.

Nowhere does the truth debate shine more strongly than in the criminal courtroom. There, truth is on trial, even more than the accused.

Take, for instance, the murder trial of Amanda Knox. A British university student named Meredith Kercher was found dead in her room on 1 November 2007 and her flatmate Amanda stands accused. Beyond those two undeniable points, the story gets muddled, the facts conflict, and characters feature or fade depending on which version of truth is on the witness stand.

The intrigue surrounding the trial is perhaps more true than the murder case itself, and that is exactly what director Michael Winterbottom and writer Paul Viragh attempt to portray in their upcoming film The Face of an Angel.

Theirs is a true story.

The script follows the character of Thomas, a Hollywood film director trying to produce a film about the Amanda Knox trial. He begins with a book released by a Rome-based journalist who has been covering the trial. Here the viewer begins the ultra-meta journey of the director and writer themselves. The book and its author actually exist and they served as the starting point for this film script. Thus the viewers watch Thomas, embodying Michael, ‘the director’, watching the journalists, ‘the media’, watching the court case, ‘the instrument of truth and justice’, continuing on through a rabbit hole collection of perspectives – the boyfriend, the eerie landlord/blogger, the disengaged English art student, the family of the accused, the family of the victim, the slew of witnesses, the lawyers, the Hollywood production team, Thomas’ family in Los Angeles, and on and on.

Each presents a true angle. More importantly, each wants Thomas to select his own angle by which to approach the script and make it digestible to audiences seeking the truth. Thomas (Michael and Paul) struggles to reconcile that there may be many truths or none at all. His version of the trial story will be but another ‘true’ perception, a presentation with all the supporting frills and emotional appeal to make it marketable to the blockbuster world.

The Face of an Angel may be one of the most authentic (if one can use the term) trial portrayals: a critique on media and presentation and, I would argue, our understanding of truth itself, the film is a story of love and loss. It is not for everyone – a bit of a self-indulgent mindfuck – but nonetheless fascinating, beautifully made, and a reminder that the jury is still out on the truth question.

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NOAH

Noah may be the story of a man (and his madness), but I thought the women carried this film.

Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson gracefully inserted some strong suspense into an otherwise emotionally constipated film. They developed their characters to such a degree that the viewer could connect honestly with their situations. Noah? Not so much.

Russell Crowe exudes his usual husky brawn, and his determined mental breakdown is fairly convincing, but the audience hardly sees the loving father, the respectful grandson, the mortal man grappling with spiritual confusion and human emotion. His transition to beach bum drunk seemed out of place, not within the storyline but in its portrayal. Did I simply miss the point? Of the other male characters: pretty-boy Shem lacked personality – I fault scripting and lack of screen time. Then again, Shem’s role is to be the new Adam, which requires mere existence not character. Ham, though admirably portrayed by Logan Lerman, did not fully convince me of his complicated relationship with Noah. The Watchers were an interesting Transformers-esque addition, and explained much of the ark’s otherwise implausible construction. Tubal-Cain did make a nice stock villain. I suppose.

I have the highest respect for Darren Aronofsky and have adored much of his previous work. I even enjoyed the artistic approach he took with Noah – the evolution of humanity up to its present state of chaotic decline in particular. The apocalyptic take seemed current, rather than biblical, rather than mythical.

A five of ten. Thanks primarily to the women.

Video

Finding Welkin

You should probably be watching Jay Salbert’s new short video Finding Welkin, which was recently chosen as Vimeo staff pick of the week! Cool people making beautiful things.

See Jay Salbert’s website for more.

The Making of Harry Potter

This is adorable. And makes me that much more excited about my birthday gift to myself in 6 months.

The Forgotten Kingdom, faux-Phuta screening

IMG_4930The ongoing The Forgotten Kingdom roadshow is visiting many of its former filming locations around Lesotho to show the finished product to the people themselves. The sentiment is beautiful, if the logistics are rather cumbersome.

Since the Maseru premiere on 1 March, the roadshow team has made its way in a loop around the country – hitting every obstacle imaginable ranging from constant rain to scheduling the entire event in the wrong village. Such is life on the road.

Jenn had spent weeks coordinating a screening in the village of Phuta, where Andrew believed he had filmed some of the Basotho cultural dancing and depictions of mountain village life. Fun fact: Phuta was not the village in which he filmed, which we discovered upon arrival*. Driving an extra half hour down the road revealed the true film location, where the roadshow crew set up the inflatable screen and projector and held an impromptu screening.

The turnout? Incredible.

Sitting amidst the shepherds, bo-‘m’e, le bo-ntate as they watched the film for the first time was a treat. I smile to recognize the divide between our senses of humor: lekhua and Basotho rarely laughed at the same parts of the film. Understanding some of the Sesotho chatter throughout the screening was equally rewarding: the shepherds really got into the storyline. But above all, the reactions of the entire village as their friends and neighbors appeared on-screen were priceless.

What a cool event to experience – with the film crew, with the villagers, with Matthew and the BOTFL team visiting TTL.

The rain held off. The stars shone bright. Mountains, far as the eye can see.
I am grateful. I am full.

*It will turn out okay. The Phuta chief was in South Africa that night and the Councillor standing in for her wanted little to do with us anyway.

The Forgotten Kingdom, Maseru Premiere

IMG_4655Lesotho

Sometimes called ‘Mountain Kingdom’ or ‘Kingdom in the Sky’, Lesotho for many forced into a state of Diaspora by high unemployment and low opportunity has also become The Forgotten Kingdom.

By that name, the first feature film about Lesotho, shot on location and sporting an impressive Basotho cast and crew, is finally complete after eight years of intensive work. American director Andrew Mudge has devoted nearly a decade to creating this beautiful portrayal of Basotho life and storytelling. Now Mudge is returning to show the film to the people who inspired and helped him realize his masterpiece.

On 1 March, The Forgotten Kingdom tour began with a high-profile premiere in Maseru. Attendees ranged from curious Basotho to foreign visitors to local artists to embassy delegates.

IMG_4648Since TTL has helped facilitate screenings in Mokhotlong District, we received tickets to attend the Maseru premiere. A chance to attend an event that feels more familiar and homey than I expected? I’ll take it. A chance to wear my killer Ghanaian dress courtesy of PoP Team Ghana? Yes please. A chance to spend an evening watching a story about Lesotho with two dear Basotho friends? Priceless.

Films do not premiere in Lesotho, much less are they screened in rural villages. For many Basotho, this is a novel and exciting experience. Plunged occasionally into the Hollywood glam world thanks to my San Diego ties, I knew what to expect. ‘M’e Nthabeleng and her cousin ‘M’e Lineo, however, did not. Their reactions were heartwarming.

As the theatre audience stood for the entrances of the Prime Minister, King Letsie III, and Queen ‘Masenate, bo-‘M’e Ntahbeleng le Lineo straightened their shirts and stood gaping. The superstar cast made their way to their seats amidst frenzied twittering. What was more, such reactions were entirely deserved.

The Forgotten Kingdom is a beautiful film about a beautiful country. It portrays Basotho culture accurately and respectfully. I am grateful to have seen the film, eager for its full release, and encourage everyone to discover the kingdom I now call home through this wonderful movie.

Read more on The Forgotten Kingdom website:  http://forgottenkingdomthemovie.com/

How to host a one-man Oscar Party in Lesotho

  1. Wake up at normal time (4am)
  2. Make coffee for two; grab only one mug
  3. Crawl into bed with a laptop + internet access
  4. Turn on Pharrell’s 24-hour Happy music video for ambiance
  5. Stream The Oscars Live Blog
  6. Check @theacademy Instagram every 5-7 minutes
  7. Feel a complete lack of emotion. Vow never to host a one-man Oscar Party in Lesotho again.