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Welcome to Me (2014)
A great film !
This is the story of Alice Kleig (Kristen Wiig). She wakes up every day at 12: 15, her TV has been on for ten years, she knows by heart a great number of Oprah Winfrey shows. Alice was diagnosed bipolar at 16. Well as she explains it, in those days it was called manic-depressive, then bipolar and now borderline personality disorder. Alice win 86 millions of dollars at the lottery.
So she pays for her own TV show, where she'll be the host and will talk about herself. This film could be considered as a critic of our selfie and real TV era where anyone plays his/her life as a show. It could be seen as a critic of how people consummate themselves in their image, and lose their soul with this profusion of extimity, like American Indian who thought that pictures stole their soul. But instead of being a parody, and a critic Welcome to Me stays focused on Alice. And Welcome to Me becomes an idea of what would be the equivalent of Outsider art for television. Alice is helped in creating what she wants by her greedy producer, and her knowledge of television, so the show looks like a performance, and this kind of humour reminds of Andy Kaufman's. It is brilliant.
The soundtrack use is very interesting. I was very interested in the way a weird song like Happy Talk by Daniel Johnston is used as a standard. Is he credited? Or is it some kind of standard I didn't know of? The fact that the author uses his music, or the music he used shows that she's interested of the creativity of madness. (In fact Daniel Johnston created a show called Welcome to my World, so he probably inspired Shira Piven or Eliot Laurence the writer (impossible to say).
What Alice exposes here, are her defense mechanisms against falling apart, all of the creation of her soul to hold on to herself: her things ordered by colours (once I was very bored and colour coordinated my books), her highly proteinated diet, her traumas and she's capable of putting all that in a form that makes it watchable (a student in communication compares her work to Cindy Sherman's). Like the filmmaker who turned Daniel Johnston's music into a jazz standard, Alice's world is standardized for television, and makes madness watchable. (This is so rare in cinema, that it makes this film very important).
Madness is sort of censured by general medias; it scares people, so it's very rare to have it portrayed in an interesting and creative way. It's most of the time reduced (especially since the DSMs became psychiatric bibles, cutting the classical mental categories into symptoms and little pieces) to neurological troubles, and simplify the human being as if we were only a mass of facts. But Alice because of the considerable sum she won can beat the censorship, explain herself, and tell her life like no one ever heard it. The film doesn't try to explain her madness or to cure it, but it shows her humanity and her fight to be defined by something else than a diagnostic that changes with medical fashions
L'heure d'été (2008)
What's the meaning of heritage?
Hélène Berthier, niece of a famous painter, receive her children and grand children for her birthday, and take this opportunity to talk about her death, and what will happen to her uncle's collection. Once dead, Frederic, her elder son think that they'll keep the house as it his, but his brother and sister don't live in France anymore and think that it would more intelligent to sell. When I was expecting the family to be destroyed around this heritage, nothing like that happens, they all accept and the rarity in the 21 century of families having things that could belong to museums takes an end. This film is extremely beautiful, for many reasons. First because it can touch everyone who lost someone and saw what was theirs, being sold and put in many places. Then this film is beautiful because it shows also how everyone accepts that but also suffers from what they can't keep together: family, past, heritage! To me it shows better than any Amelie, or La Vie en Rose what being French means: being thorn between the heritage of a culture and an appeal of modernity, wanting to keep your roots alive and spread toward the world. This is funny how this thought came through my mind "Why do they want to live in Beijing or New York?" suddenly being in the film, that seemed weird to me when I just lived two years and a half in London, and probably won't stay in my old country forever. The actors are great, Edith Scob playing the extremely classy Hélène, and Charles Berling, Jeremy Regnier and Juliette Binoche are very touching and human. It's important to say, that the object are also characters in this story, and it's scary at the end to see them in the museum d'Orsay, how they lost life or are recovering some. It's important to say that this film was a project with the museum, and I think that it is brilliant to make us pay attention to the details of these objects when generally we're not. Question: is art made for museum or to live with it? People wouldn't try to steal them from museum if the answer was museums
If you want to see my other critics: http://www.silverparticules.blogspot.com