Posts Tagged ‘Max Von Sydow’

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”: Effective…but Great?

January 22, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

***There are minor spoilers throughout as this turned out to be more of a critique than a review.***

I’ve come to a conclusion over my limited years of movie viewing that there can be a difference, albeit a very abstract one, between a great movie and an effective movie. Both categories share similar qualities which makes it difficult to tell them apart sometimes. They share the skillful touch of a true craftsman, an absorbing musical score, lush visuals and fine performances, but in the end sometimes even the greatest movies lack in their effectiveness and vice versa effective movies aren’t always great ones.

For a great movie to be ineffective, the third act sometimes fizzles away, or it could simply be that certain elements don’t gel so the emotional connection is lost. A great movie might play more to the intellectual side of the viewer, relying on the audience to fill in the banks, consider this years Charlie Wilson’s War or perhaps There Will Be Blood (great movies, but effective only to a point.) On the other hand an effective movie will through the use of certain creative techniques force you to feel what the main character is going through. Sometimes the method used can be tedious, other times overwhelming and many times exhausting, but when done well can envelope you into the mindset of it’s protagonist. Of course when these two elements are combined you have an Oscar winning film…(right?) I would say Zodiac and No Country for Old Men fit into this category.

Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an incredibly effective film, but I would argue against its true greatness. It follows the life of former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) between the moment he wakes up from a coma to find that the only part of his body he can move is his left eye (called lock-in syndrome) to the publication of his book which the movie is based on.

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“The Personal Ingmar Bergman: an Odyssey” or “It’s Okay to Question”

August 25, 2007

bergman at work

There’s been so much written about Bergman over the past month, it’s unfortunate that I was unable to finish this sooner, but all commentary on films and filmmakers is worthwhile in my eyes, no matter how timely the piece may or may not be.

Part 1

There’s a lot to this, to understand the impact of Ingmar Bergman in my life you first have to understand my life a little bit. My Father was and still is to this day a minister, and my Mother a minister’s wife. And similar to most biblical stories a lot of turmoil followed them and likewise my sister and I as we lugged around the United States looking for a Church that was without inner conflict; hypocrisy and backstabbing. I remember the stories of the apostles as they traveled across the land trying to bring people together with wisdom and love, trying to upend them out of their ways that were there more for convenience of memory than an actual desire to worship. My parents tried to do this by removing the hymnals and using bands, doing staged productions for the Church (both the poor man’s versions of much larger churches). My Father was trying to reach out to a younger generation of kids. He even went so far as to bring in movie clips. But like the congregation and the apostles, my Father was hardly perfect. Perhaps the man who takes upon them the mantle of not only a religious follower, but leader, succumbs to their own worst impulses when they realize they can’t live up to their own expectations. I don’t know. Thankfully his worst impulses pale in comparison to the leadership in the Old Testament, and he’s since outgrown many of them.

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