A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, May 4, 2018

Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper
Maureen: Kristen Stewart
Ingo: Lars Eidinger
Lara: Sigrid Bouaziz
Erwin: Anders Danielsen Lie
Gary: Ty Olwin
Detective: Hammou Graïa
Kyra: Nora von Waldstätten
Victor Hugo: Benjamin Biolay

Director: Olivier Assayas
Screenplay: Olivier Assayas
Cinematography: Yorick Le Saux
Production design: François-Renaud Labarthe
Film editing: Marion Monnier

Olivier Assayas delights in showcasing Kristen Stewart's ambisexual persona in Personal Shopper, a tantalizing ghost story that carefully avoids predictability at every turn. At the end we're left to decide whether the ghosts Maureen encounters are real or just -- as the ghost itself seems to tell her with its single rap signifying "yes" in answer to her question -- projections of her own imagination. It's an ambiguity that seems to have frustrated audiences, which took less warmly to the film than the critics did: Critics see so many movies that resolve their enigmas too patly, so that any film which leaves a viewer dangling in uncertainty seems fresh. Stewart is onscreen for almost the entire film, so that it's easy enough to explain away her encounters with the supernatural as projections of her grief-sodden mind. But then Assayas presents inexplicable occurrences that Maureen doesn't or can't witness, such as the scene in which a hotel's elevator and automatic doors open at the command of an invisible figure, or the one in which we glimpse in the background, as the camera focuses on Maureen, a glass moving through the air and dropping to the ground to shatter behind her back. Assayas is deftly playing with our expectations that what the camera shows us must be real.

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