Friday 25 November 2011

Films which take you to another time and place

Doing a series of film blog posts is all very well and good but I can only talk about the films I have seen, which would make for a fairly blinkered selection. So I've asked some of my friends and favourite bloggers if they'd make a contribution too. Today, Lolly from Panda and Crumpet talks about the films which transport her to a different time and place. Big thanks go to Lolly!


I'm not really aspozeda write about why I don't believe in watching films that are so bad they're good, so instead I'm going to have a sit and a bit of a think about my favourite films that take me to another place or time. Because that sort of thing is my favourite. Escapism. Being totally sucked in. Far away places. Long times ago.

Last Year in Marianbad (1961)
This film is so beautiful, glamarous and disorientating. Set in a confusing and dreamy limbo world within a Baroque hotel interior, with outfits designed by Coco Chanel, whenever I watch this I get sucked right in to the picturesque ornamental gardens and palacial bedrooms, and also, confusingly, the video for Blur's 'To The End' which parodies it. The thing that I really fall in to though is the narration. Monotonous and repetitive (and French), I spend days walking around with an inner monologue narrating as I effortlessly swish my way through neverending corridors, sculpture gardens and hedge mazes (or "Willesden Green" as some people pronounce it).

eXistenZ (1999) (and Videodrome (1983))
Ongoing existential nightmares and losing touch with reality are me. But that's also sort of about the very idea of watching films, in a way. And the way we interact with technology, which is obviously what both of these films explore. Life is confusing. I have a massively overactive imagination and lose my way in it a bit, forget what things have or haven't happened or may or may not have been said. Multiple realities, dream worlds, existing in all of these different places and exploring them.... mmmmyes please.

The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (2007)
Not the cheeriest film in the world. A concentration camp may not be the ideal place for a spot of cinematic escapism, but aside from this story being true and captivating, and however much bacon I may eat, there are some bits of my family history that I am consistently compelled to get lost in. I have always been fascinated by the little pockets of smaller stories surrounding WW2. I'm always delighted, in a very odd way, to watch films like this with people who have had much less exposure to the history and events of the Holocaust. Being sent to schools where we watched Fiddler on the Roof, Schindler's List or Europa Europa (another absolutely amazing film by the way) as 'special treats' has softened the blow of the scenes in The Counterfeiters where men are marched through the snow in leg irons. Shrugging these things off of the screen because I know they happened to people not so far removed from myself, whilst others wince and gasp, somehow adds to my experience of me feeling lost inside these stories, like they are somehow part of me.

I suppose they are in a way. The strokes of luck and fortune that led to me or my parents or their parents even being born; The story of my great uncle escaping Europe by foot after attending Hitler's Olympic Games; Anne Frank's bookcase; Tattoos on forearms; And Adolf Burger's life-saving typographical skills. I love this film for being German, too. It feels somehow balanced differently. You become completely part of this life by watching the twists it takes.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Classic typical Wes Anderson. All the ingredients you need are there. Colours. People with no real job. Vintage/timeless outfits. Bill Murray. People trying to 'find themselves'. And most importantly, Jason Schwartzman. Oh, Jason. Ahem. Anyway. Yes. You've probably seen this so I shan't bang on about the sublime directing, or the crafty set production techniques that went in to setting most of the film on a train. This film takes me to India. It puts me on the train with the brothers. It's so immersive. I have watched this film so many times - in fact I'm probably going to watch it tonight now - but it leaves me feeling the same way EVERY time. That I must go somewhere. Explore some things. Explore myself. Reconnect with my family. Write some stuff on my typewriter. And also marry Jason Schwartzman.

Gainsbourg (2010)
I'm really surprising myself with how recent these are. I fucking love Serge. I even love the imaginary posthumous (mmm, hummus) Serge who inhabits my twitter timeline with talk of his balls and swearing about politics. Joann Sfar did an amazing job of bringing his massively long graphic novel to big-screen life. You feel like you're sneaking around next to Serge as a child, as a young crooner, as a sleazy revolting brilliant old dog, like you're sat next to him, like his ugly cabbage-headed alter-ego which haunts his reflections and moments of insecurity. PARIS. I bloody love Paris. I LOVE FRANCE. I must go, immediately. And smoke! I need to smoke ALL the cigarettes. And eat pickled cucumbers with my Jewish grandpa. And paint and fuck and speak French and be a disgrace.

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