Posts Tagged ‘melodrama’

It’s good to be ambitious in a film. It takes a lot of courage to deal with sickness, mortality, bereavement, love, friendship, marriage, parenting, creativity, culture, fame, failure – oh, and Beethoven – in under two hours.

An acclaimed New York string quartet have been playing together for twenty-five years. The cellist is diagnosed with Parkinson’s. And with this unexpected crisis everything else starts to unravel – the music, the relationships, even the past.

Most of this works. There are some powerful scenes. But somehow it didn’t quite fit together for me; I didn’t quite believe in the characters. It felt contrived.

Now surely this is an unfair criticism. The whole point of a chamber piece like this is that it is contrived: five characters (there is a daughter too), on stage before us for two hours, everything as carefully constructed as Beethoven’s quartet itself (op. 131).

It made me wonder about what was missing. Why is it that in a classic Woody Allen film (Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and her Sisters, etc), however extraordinary the characters, and however overwrought the plot, you still believe that they have an existence beyond the film, that you are stepping into their life rather than seeing a life momentarily created for your entertainment?

Why does the willing suspension of disbelief sometimes work and sometimes not? I think this was too actorly, in a self-conscious way; verging on the melodramatic; and simply not as funny as Allen. And without the ragged edges that allow the film in front of you to fade into an imagined reality behind the screen. All of this, somehow, takes away from the authenticity that is the mark of a great film.

So it’s a good film! Go and see it. But with something missing…

Here is the Beethoven:

Read Full Post »

Take a look at this wonderful slide-show illustrating the body language, facial expressions and hand gestures used in the world’s soap operas.


They are part of an exhibition of new German art at the Saatchi gallery which runs until 30 April 2012.

“Artist Julian Rosefeldt has sifted through stills from soap operas around the world and collated the melodramatic expressions of the performers, creating a study of our era’s emotional codes.”

It’s embarrassing. Not just for the actors themselves, but for oneself, as you realise how many of these gestures have been internalised and are no longer just ironic or comic references to second-hand soap melodrama, but have become an ordinary part of one’s own emotional vocabulary. OK, what I really mean is that I am unconsciously using about half of these gestures in an average conversation.

I exaggerate. But I am definitely using the ‘OK circle’ from slide 4 far too much in my philosophy classes…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: