Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let's get movi(e)ng

Maria Toloudi, a good friend from my Greek past, from when we attended high school together, started recently a personal blog under the title 'Let's get movi(e)ng'. She is basically a sophisticated cinephile, as well as part time author of short stories, immensely compact with profound depths, that she occasionally publishes in a local magazine. She also recently started posting her stories (in Greek) in her other blog too (Νοιάζομαι). I have commented on her fiction writing style in a previous blogpost of mine, as some of you may have read.

In her recent personal blog she decided to post some of her unpublished short stories, but she mainly focuses on reviewing various recent movie productions that happened to touch a chord inside her mind and soul.

As we all know, in the sphere of cinematic productions, there is a large spectrum and multiple shades of gray of movie critics. Most actually provide a summary of the film script to conveniently fill-in a few paragraphs of their review, and further narrate a few key and cliffhanger scenes of the production; however, in their intent to appeal to the simple minds of the reader community, they often remain on the upper surface of what meets the eye in the two hours of movie attendance in a theater. Others conveniently copy what celebrity critics have already written and defended before. Indeed there are leading critics who either elevate a production to unseen heights of praise or dig it deep in the abyss of cinematographic incompetence. However, many film reviews are far from objective, and are virally planted in the media channels for commercial reasons, funded by the large production houses in the process of their new film market awareness and marcoms campaigns. A recent example of such is a quite negative review on Clooney's The Ides of March by a renowned New Yorker Magazine critic, however the marketing machinations of the funding houses behind ladykiller George's work have made sure the grand public worldwide got a far more distorted view of the reality. And the movie was presented as a 'must see'. Only time and history will show who's right and who's wrong.

Maria is a far more complex film reviewer than those described above though. As she does this for fun, she wouldn't care less if she decided to dig literally six feet under a production that most media praised to the gates of the movie heaven. She is simply genuine and expresses her perception of the truth after a deep study of her own feelings and ideas/concepts a given production have triggered inside her mind and soul. She writes her critics for fun, like I said, in order to share with friends and cinephiles alike her far deeper thoughts and profound ideas about the motives and intents of the movie director. You practically need to have actually watched a movie in order to grasp the deeper meaning of her arguments and ideas. Maria likes to explore ideas in the movie creator's mind far deeper than anyone I know, and she experiences things that mere mortals like the rest of us wouldn't even see if they hit us in the face. In that sense reading her reviews creates an entirely new experience as you suddenly discover things you haven't realized earlier, to the point you decide to watch the movie again, and either approve or challenge her proposed ideas and perceptions.

She once told me she wants to state the facts as she experiences them by watching a movie, but she nevertheless abstains from trying to impose her own personal opinion on a reader, allowing the space to him/her to create his/her own ideas and interpretations. In that sense, she basically turns her reviews into brain teasers, the short of thing intellectuals often love to make us deal with.

One such review she recently wrote was about Nanni Moretti's movie Habemus Papam (2011), a rating of 7 in IMDB.  She basically framed Moretti's profound intent behind this production in four key concepts: ChurchScience, Personal Responsibility and (Societal/Personal) Limits. Those four parameters, she claims, become the 'fil rouge' throughout the movie. She often comes back to them, to demonstrate her thesis in subsequent paragraphs of her review. Especially the parameter of human Limits becomes her perception of the Moretti's magic concept in his movie.

She also develops the idea that Moretti made the use of a 'Deus ex Machina' reference to 'theater' at the back end of the movie to 're-establish' the limits, as she puts it, and return to the socially accepted 'order' of things by requiring the characters avoiding being themselves, but 'pretend' instead, as like being theatrical actors (and I am not even sure I have properly represented her deeper interpretation behind that particular paragraph). It's an interesting point, especially in the light of many other Habemus Papam reviews, in which Moretti is being negatively painted for this particular reference to 'theater'. She would have loved to hear Moretti himself clarify his intents behind that part of the movie, she told me.

It's a pity her reviews are only written in Greek and cannot, as such, be experienced by aliens... It is also the kind of Greek prose that is extremely hard to translate to another language (she often uses a sort of post Alexander the Great Hellenistic Greek sentence constructs, however built upon contemporary  spoken Demotiki Greek). Even for native Greeks, it is often quite puzzling to see through her various sentence constructs, what she really set out to mean. She's a strong believer that an eclectic writing style, the one that touches the frontiers of good literature and art, should provide lots of space unfilled, and with occasional gaps, in order to allow room for interpretation. In that sense she writes in a style that is reminiscent of Ancient Chinese texts and the idea behind Far Eastern ideograms that only assume their final meaning and correct interpretation in the presence of a particular context.  I wouldn't be surprised to see most of her readers actually read her texts over and over in order to make sure they understood well what she really meant. In that sense, both her film reviews and short stories prose are quite challenging to grasp and require a descent amount of energy to understand... quite a bit of mental energy indeed. She wouldn't care less though, if you told her that for this reason her work would have difficulty to get a 'commercial' approval stamp. And her books to become best-sellers. She would care even less if her work's fog index required PhD level of a trained mind to grasp its deeper meanings. In fact she enjoys how that experience alone, when admitted by her readers, ends up stroking her own ego and gives her a sense of achievement of  the goals she set out to address...

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