woensdag 28 maart 2012

Extremely loud, but not so close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) is a movie about a little boy holding on to the last thing he thinks his father left him: a key which he thinks will tell a story. His father, Thomas (Tom Hanks), died in the World Trade Center on September 11th and both his son, Oskar (Thomas Horn), and his wife, Linda (Sandra Bullock) have to find a way to deal with their loss. Oskar can't seem to let it go, and then he finds a key. Will he find a final message from his father?

The trailer
In the first seconds of the trailer we hear a voice over, a boy, who says that his father told him he is special. A bond is created and when you see Oskar at home with Linda and Thomas you know they are a tight, happy family. The images slow down and tragedy strikes. In an instant you know it's the WTC and when you see Linda on the phone you know Thomas hasn't survived. It creates the expectation that that's what the movie is about, but actually that's only the beginning. Oskar finds a key and wants to know what it fits so he goes on an expedition. A beautiful song by U2 plays over the images of the young boy searching, meeting interesting people and touching their lives. It sweeps you up and takes you away with the images. What also stands out is that the cinematography has some pretty rare shots in them, which sells the trailer.

The actual movie
Oskar is a special kid, it's how he's portrated. He's different, but he's been 'tested' and he doesn't have any kind of condition. He's just different. This makes it hard to relate to him. The relationship he has with his father should be close and you can see it in the way they spend time together and on their little expeditions. But it's never extremely convincing. This is mostly because of the voice over that will not stop. Voice overs can work, but in this movie it doesn't. It explains to much, which makes it hard to really get into the movie. Other than that, Oskars voice doesn't have a lot of emotion in it that could carry you through that. The moment where Thomas dies is short and after that, the role played by the mother becomes smaller and smaller in the movie. They seem to have grown apart, dealing with the loss of the most important man in their lives in their own way.

Deaths and bringing people together
When Oskar finds the key, he goes on a final expedition for the last message his father has left him. He lies to his mother and goes to every 'Black' (the last name he found with the key) he can find. It causes him to step outside of his comfort zone as well as meet new people. When he tells them about the key, his father and the WTC, how can people not be touched? However, these moments are short and there aren't that many. The magic of finding out who those people are and how they deal with their lives remains unknown. It doesn't mean that it's less important, but it also doesn't make clear what the point of it is. Oskar has a list and before you know it, he has had a lot of Blacks. But you haven't seen it. This makes you wonder why it was even shown at all.
There is one person who really matters. That's 'The Renter', he will help Oskar on his expedition. Once again Oskar has someone to talk to and feel close to. He can share his search and even more important the real reason behind it. These are some of the most touching scènes. Other moments (which are also shown in the trailer) are when Linda gets a call from Thomas and when Oskar says 'I love you' through the door. They really cut into you. The first one because it makes you experience (or at least think about) what it must have been like for the people who got those calls and knew they couldn't do anything to help. The desperation, the powerlessness. Nothing else is needed in these scenes and that's all Sandra. She plays these moments so well, with just the right amount of emotion and fear that it takes you with her. What the boy lacks in empathy and emotion, you can find it all in her.

(Sandra Bullock talking to Thomas on the phone - I don't own this picture)

The specs
While the music was very convincing in sweeping you up in the story in the trailer, there was a definate lack in the movie itself. Usually a soundtrack is provided and this helps to really feel the emotions that the character is feeling. Whether it's the character or the lack of strong accompaning music, I don't know. The cinematography is that much better. Chris Menges is responsibly for this one and he has done a fine job. There are some ingenius ways in which he lets the viewer experience Oskars world. It's chaotic at times and overwhelming, but on others it can be serene or just plain unclear. Other shots are more playful. Like when Oskar holds a mirror on a stick to spy on his parents talking (and later kissing) in the kitchen. It's a touching shot, because it shows the inventive and nosy character that Oskar is, as well as a private moment between two parents.

Books and movies
When I watched the trailer I was enthousiastic and I couldn't wait to see this movie. It would be different because it wasn't about 9/11, but about the aftermath in a small family. Unfortunatly the movie did not deliver. There are certainly some beautiful moments, that make it a movie worth watching. Not to mention a very fitting conclusion that makes it a movie close to reality. It's not one of those overly commercial movies but beautiful in it's simplicity. But in the overall picture, if you want a good story that you can get lost in and where you can get close to the character, you're probably better of reading the book.

woensdag 14 maart 2012

Beautiful things

(by Ian Britt, I <3 his music! )

 (I tried to find a YT-vid from 2x13 where they say 'I love you', but couldn't find it :(
I do have a picture though)

(2:00 is one of my most beautiful moments of Charmed)

I do not own any of this materiaal, I found it all on YouTube or the web and wanted to share it.

maandag 12 maart 2012

Choosing the right education (for you)

It's been a while since my last blog... Safe to say that I've been busy. I have actually graduated for my Master and am now actively looking for a job - any job - because I can no longer pay for all my expenses (by that I mean rent, food and train tickets to see my boyfriend and/or family). So that's what I've been busy with. I also went to see The Iron Lady with the amazing Meryl Streep - no wonder she got a Globe and Oscar for it - and the always lovely Tony Head (Giles from Buffy) with a friend. Afterwards we went to a bar and chatted over drinks. Of course the subject came up to what I'm doing now and what I'm looking for, but we also talked about choosing the right education...

The Dutch education system
Now, don't worry. I wont explain the entire system here, but I will explain some things to paint a picture. In Holland, when children are about four or five years old it's manditory to send them to school. Usually they leave this school by the age of twelve or thirteen. Then they go on to high school. This is where you actually have to make one of your first decisions for the rest of your life: which school to go to. There are different kind of schools based on the degree. I went to a so-called 'Gymnasium' where we also learn 'old languages', namely Latin and/or ancient Greek. It's the highest high school we have in the Netherlands and last six years (if you don't have to do any years over) - to compare, the lowest lasts four years. During the third year you have to choose a profile/direction (like medicine, chemistry, economics or culture/languages). [Side note: I have no idea if this makes any sense or not, but I hope it's understandable].
The choice we make here will play a part to determine what you will do after high school (college/university). By this time we are around fifteen or sixteen years old. In my eyes this is way to young. Luckily you still have about three years to either change your mind or switch. Though this brings a lot of extra work with it because you have to catch up on everything you've missed. More often than not, it's not even possible, because it's too much. So you have to live with that decision and work hard for it. Now I don't know about everybody else, but when I was in high school I used to dream about the future. Imagine I would have a fancy job one day. But I never really thought about how I would get there or what I would have to do. In your fourth year, you kinda have to. We were being encouraged to visit colleges and universities and take tests to find out what fits you best. When I was at this stage, I wanted to become a director. I didn't know where to look (except for the internet) and I didn't know what kind of possibilities there were. But I found a couple of places and I didn't change my mind until the final year.... when I didn't get accepted. I had to look for something else. Luckily the dates were very early for the directors programmes, so I had some time to look for something else. I decided I wanted to keep busy with films and television, so I chose a theoretical education at a university. It also fitted my high school diploma and I got accepted. 

(Buffy 4x01 Promo 'Freshman')

I started my Bachelor and I finished it in the three years that were planned for it. All according to schedule. How come? I was what we call a 'stuud', a person who does nothing else but learn and write papers and doesn't really take the time to do a lot of things for herself besides school. This is also because I was driven to succeed in those three years. My parents never had a lot of money and when I was fifteen my parents told me that I was going to have to get a parttime/weekend job in order to pay for college/university. And I didn't mind. Yes it was hard work, but it taught me discipline and I respected my parents all the more. It's not like they chose for it.... It's just the way it worked out. Luckily I also had some money left to buy nice things, but then I moved and I couldn't find a weekendjob in the city. I started to focus on my schoolwork again and stopped the job search. When I almost finished my Bachelor I started to think about my future, again. By this time I was 22 years old and I still had no idea what I wanted. I simply couldn't handle the pressure or didn't know what I could do with my education. So I started with my Master. This would focus more on the practical side instead of the theoretical side of the industry. It was a very good choice. It gave me a year extra to think about job opportunities and do an internship.

The (right) choice ?
The past year I have been thinking about the possibilities my education gives me on the job market and it isn't that good. Especially in this time of crisis with budget cuts. It would have been better to have done a different Bachelor education or taken some extra classes. But how could I have known that at the time? When your a teenager you - or at least I - don't think that far ahead in a realistic way. But still you are being forced to make that choice. Something that will determine the rest of your life. That sounds pretty drastic right? Well, it isn't totally true... Because you can still switch, choose a different education, but you lose momentum ... and a lot of money in the proces. You can keep switching, but the loans will keep pilling up. The truth is that some people don't know what they want until they are like forty or something. I won't go into that, but it's a fact. And I don't want to waste my time. But I also don't know for certain that what I want to do right now is really what I want to do. How can you know for sure, right? You don't know what it will be like or what else is out there or how that would work... Anyway. I just keep reminding myself of what my father told me. And that is this: "If you really want it, it doens't matter how long it takes, how many letters you have to write or interviews you have to go to. You will be driven, because it's what you really want. And that will show and that is why at some point, you will get the job that you want. You just have to keep trying." 
I am the first to say that after several months of writing motivational letters and not getting invited to a job interview does bring down your spirits. But I will keep going, because if I would ever stop, I would never even get the chance. And the more you try, the bigger your chance will get. Or at least, that's what I'm hoping. As far as the education goes: I believe there are a lot of people out there that turn their hobbies into jobs without any education at all. So the drive, enthousiasm and love for doing what you do shows other people that you will be good for the job.

(Charmed 8x22 - Shared here mostly for the reason Piper gives at 2:30)

In my oppinion
I think we have to decide too young what we want to do with our lives. This may have been ok in the past and worked out, but a second Bachelor and/or Master (or other second education), not to mention the other activities (joining groups and working on personal development) has now become unpayable. So we get burned. When I was in high school I followed my heart, only to find out that there aren't that many job abilities in this field. It's a great education and I loved it (for the most part), I don't regret it. But I definitely think that in order to get a job now, I should have been better informed or told to take some other classes (like PR or New Media et cetera), to expand the fields in which I can work. This is reality and it's harsh... Looking back, I do regret, just a little bit, the decision I made. I should have chosen a safer education, something in economics, medicine or possibly IT. But for me it's too late (because I can't afford another education even though I gladly would do it), so I have to make do with what I have. So for now - in order to pay the bills - I will take some other job. I'm not saying I will give up on my dream of doing what I want to do, but I will have to persue it in my own time. Unpaid, but doing what I want because I love to do it.