Archivo de la etiqueta: Love

When fame gets in the way of love: a musical tragedy.

It seems that love and fame are difficult —or even impossible— to get along with. At least that’s what some movies, particularly musicals, have been trying to explain us all along. In their worlds, failed artists are meant to find love only by sacrificing their passions.

Nowadays, films’ stance on the artists’ love life is like this: you either are very lucky to find the love of your life and spend what’s left of your days to devote yourself to his or her hapiness, or you succeed on achieving your dreams by following the path you are always meant to walk. You have to choose, you can’t have both.

There’s no better way to illustrate this than with Jason Robert Brown’s  The Last Five Years, adapted to film by Richard LaGravenese, and Damien Chazelle’s Lala Land. Movies where their protagonists   —all artists, by the way — have to face the tough decision of living a fameless life by staying together or embracing the success that is coming their way, but only by themselves.

In The Last Five Years’ movie adaptation, Cathy (Anna Kendrick) is a musical theater performer who is looking for an opportunity that can finally take her out of her waitress job. Jamie (Jeremy Jordan), on the other hand, is a writer looking for a publishing house who would want his book.

In Lala Land, Mia (Emma Stone) is an actress who is looking for an opportunity that can finally take her out of her barista job. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz lover who wants to open his own club where he can play his own music.

They all have dreams to fullfill and places to be, but life — and love, at some extent— eventually gets in their way.  Both couples fight to stay with each other along the way, but success, as we will learn, is a tricky thing to achieve and it does not wait for anyone or anything.

What’s really enlighting about contrasting these two movies is that we have the possibility to understand how two directors can represent different scenarios, and perspectives, of the same problem: the one with the couple that begin to have problems as soon as one of them becames famous, and the other couple that strengthens themselves by supporting each others dreams but fell off the wagon half way anyway.

Whilst Jamie succesfully manages to sell his first book to a famous publishing house right after he starts dating Cathy, she is not getting callbacks at all. In fact, she is just stuck between her job as a waitress and her summer gig in Ohio. She is happy for him but, as he becomes more and more famous, she starts to feel more like a failure. She doesn’t want to be the one that’s left behind.

There’s more than the eye could see with their relationship’s problems, Jamie’s success in no way feels like a threat to Cathy, but rather a constant reminder of her failure and her impossibility to follow and achieve her dreams. Cathy’s insecurities stems from society’s need to validate women by their hability to carry along with their household activities they’re supposed to do, instead of accomplishing their goals.

Their real problem, though, is their unwilingness to communicate with each other. They are really afraid to let the other down, because they really love each other. And when they actually communicate, their only purpose is to hurt themselves.

Cathy and Jamie, in fact,  sing to express themselves. They use music to express their deepest and inner thoughts, and to reflect their expectations, like a daydreaming blowoff valve.  She wants to be independent, succesful and in love, but, at the same time, he wants to be a good provider, a succesfull writer and a charming womanizer.

Mia and Sebastian’s relationship functions the other way around. Both of them are unsuccessful and very lonely when they actually start dating. What’s really great of their relationship is the support and motivation they have with each other. Neither one of them want to see the other one fail, on the contrary, they want them to be happy and fulfilled people.

It’s really their inhability to feel empathy for one another what pushes them to break up. While Mia is incapable to believe that Sebastian would do anything to follow his dream —even if this means to play on a mainstream band and touring— he is clueless about her weariness and constant disappointment that all her failed auditions make her feel.

In the end, they all are idealists, and it’s really interesting to understand that the one thing these four people share, apart from their desire to be famous, is the way they grapple their lives by putting all their expectations before reality. They want to be in an ideal relationship, one where empathy and communication are something to be expected from your loved one.

As we can see, all of the four characters  are always constrained and forced by themselves to live between two worlds: first and foremost, on a fantasy land where they can have it all, and, later, on the real world, where love and fame can’t get along.

In fact, one of these musicals strenghts is their capability to toy with their narrative in order to show their portagonists’ life expectations by using different formats to evidence the stark constrasts between their titular couples real lives’ and their fantasy worlds.

In these movies, achievement and happiness are related with a fantasy/dream world  were their expectations are fulfilled, whilst failure and disappointment are paired with the real world. Both LaGravenese and Chazelle even depict these particular moments with different colors and shades along their stories; whereas the blue and gray filters are in charge of showing failure, the yellow and white ones are destined to bathe the screen with color when an achievement is made.

There’s certainly something tragic behind this argument. This is a world  where idealists are bound to always be normed and constrained by their expectations if they want to follow their path towards success. Even if this means to sacrifice love in their lives.

Las 18 mejores series del 2016, parte 2

9 Lady Dynamite Netflix, primera temporada.

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Si hay alguien adecuado para hablar de una enfermedad mental en una serie y reírse sobre ello definitivamente es la comediante Maria Bamford. Su particular sentido del humor y carisma hacen que cada capítulo de Lady Dynamite sea una nueva aventura.

La serie narra la vida de Maria, una actriz diagnósticada con un transtorno bipolar que se tiene que enfrentar al mundo del espectáculo después de haber estado un tiempo en un hospital psiquiátrico y alejada del medio.

Lady Dynamite no solo se encarga de hacer un estudio profundo sobre las personas que sufren una enfermedad mental, sino que también nos dan una perspectiva realista de las personas que las rodean. Serie esencial para todos los fanáticos del humor negro.

8 The Good Place NBC, primera temporada.

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Desde el estreno del remake de The Office, Michael Schur se ha encargado de crear comedias novedosas, con personajes entrañabales, muy adelantadas a su época y con The Good Place no se queda atrás.

Con este programa seguimos a Eleanor, una chica inteligente que se dedicaba a aprovecharse de los demás en una vida mal vivida, hasta que muere y aparece, gracias a un error, en el paraíso (o The Good Place) y no en el infierno (o The Bad Place). Ahí conoce al ángel arquitecto de ahí, Michael (un magnífico ted Danson) al que tendrá que engañar para poder mantener su lugar.

Si con esa explicación imaginaste una serie muy conceptual, entonces estás en lo correcto, y The Good Place se divierte mucho con eso. Resulta muy interesante ver cómo la serie juega con temas morales y profundos de forma tan natural, algo que lo vuelve un programa esencial esta temporada.

7 Love Netflix, primera temporada.

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Para los que ya conocen el trabajo de Judd Apatow, sabrán que su tipo de comedia se distingue por tratar temas en particular de forma incómoda y directa. En Girls el enfoque fue dirigido a las mujeres jóvenes modernas, en Freaks and Geeks a un grupo de inadaptados y en su más reciente creación, Love, se centra en una pareja totalmente diferente.

En manos de cualquier otras personas, esta serie podría ser otro programa más sobre una pareja dispareja. Sin embargo, con Judd Apatow y compañía, podemos disfrutar de la historia detallada de dos individuos imperfectos que intentan acompañarse el uno al otro a pesar de todo lo que se los impide, sobre todo ellos mismos.

6 Stranger Things Netflix, primera temporada.

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Si hay una serie que dio de qué hablar en este año es, sin duda, Stranger Things. Programa que, por si mismo, logró retomar los mejores elementos del terror y el suspenso de la decada de los 80 y aprovecharlos para crear una historia intrigante que sigue a un grupo de personas que están en búsqueda de un niño que, al parecer, se encuentra perdido en otra dimensión. Imperdible.

5 Veep HBO, quinta temporada.

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Esta es la primera temporada de este exitoso show de comedia política en el que el showrunner es diferente al creador original, debido a la partida de Armando Iannucci. Afortunadamente, y gracias a la fuerza del talentoso cast y de las historias ingeniosas, esta es una de las mejores temporadas de la serie.

A lo largo de 13 capítulos , personajes secundarios, como Catherine, ganan fuerza y el protagonismo necesario para llevar su propio episodio (como el fabuloso Kissing Your Sister) sin perder los arcos argumentales del resto. Muy recomendable.

4 Black Mirror Netflix, tercera temporada.

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Fue un gran alivio que el monstruo del entretenimiento Netflix decidiera retomar esta increíble serie antológica que centra sus episodios en los peligros de el aprovechamiento de la tecnología en exceso y la forma en que ésto afecta directamente a nuestra humanidad y relaciones personales.

Resulta refrescante que dicho programa contara con el respaldo y la fuerza creativa de Netflix para abrir las puertas a nuevas e impresionantes historias y a figuras importantes en el medio, como Bryce Dallas Howard y Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

3 You’re The Worst FX, tercera temporada

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Después de haber tenido una de las mejores temporadas del 2015, You’e The Worst tenía demasiadas expectativas que cumplir. esta vez, a pesar de no haber alcanzado el mismo puesto que el año pasado, contó con uno de los arcos argumentales más interesantes y profundos sobre el Transtorno por estrés postraumático, los efectos que tiene en las personas que les aflige y las consecuencias que viven los que lo rodean.

A mí parecer, este show sigue siendo la serie que trata con más profundidad y seriedad las relaciones amorosas y a los integrantes de las mismas. Un verdadero ejemplo de lo que debe ser el humor negro.

2 Bojack Horseman Netflix, tercera temporada.

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Quien diga que los dibujos animados no deberían de tomarse en serio debería de ver inmediatamente Bojack Horseman. Esta serie no solo enfocó su tercera temporada en tratar de entender a sus (de por si) complicados protagonistas, sino que también entró en el debate del aborto y la otredad sin problema alguno.

Para ser una serie protagonizada por un caballo con problemas de alcoholismo y depresión, Bojack Horseman es uno de los programas más sinceros y sencillos que podrás encontrar en la televisión actual.

1 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend The CW, segunda temporada

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Con tan sólo 6 capítulos de la segunda temporada, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend logró encabezar esta lista sin problema alguno. No es solo porque cuenta con uno de los personajes más interesantes de la televisión actual, y antiheroina autoproclamada, Rebecca Bunch, sino que también es una de las series más ingeniosas de la televisión actual.

Acompañada de una lista impresionantes de musicales y un cast muy fuerte, la segunda temporada de Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continua modificando los estereotipos de la mujer loca y el hombre superficial, mientras desarrolla una de las más grandes historias de amor: el de dos mejores amigas que se pierden en el camino.

 

Y ahí lo tienen, este es el listado de series del 2016 que, en mi opinión, tuvieron motivos suficientes para sobresalir de entre el mar de programas que se estrenan cada año, ¿ya viste alguna? ¿qué te pareció?

 

The color narrative in audiovisual stories.

It’s very well known that our brain has a wonderful way of working when it comes to color. It could react to a certain, and specific, situation depending on the one that surrounds the person at issue the same way it could understand a feeling with an  auxiliary color. Color is important to our lives. Color is everywhere.

Color is a wonderful narrative device that can carry a whole scene with emotional depth and no dialogue whatsoever. The beauty of it lies in its habilty to communicate directly with our feelings whereas our brains can fully understand the message separately.

So, it’s not suprise that color and audiovisual stories (TV and Cinema) have had, from the very beginning, an intrinsical link.  With color you can transform a bubbly and happy scene into something dark and sinister, you can also communicate to the audience the frame of mind of a certain character by the color he or she is wearing in their clothes, and you can even distinguish periods of time, on a movie or TV show, with color and shades.

You could say a lot of things just by using one color. Blue can be related to sadness and melancholy the same way it could be linked with life. Yellow, on the other hand, can be attached with happiness and magic, but also with anger.

You just have to take a look into the current TV shows on air to find color narratives all over the place. Whereas Netflix’s Jessica Jones tries to mimic the film noir atmosphere we all love with dark surroundings and grey areas in its sceneries, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt paints its frames with bright and happy colors to imitate the kind of psychotropic world where all its characters live in.

In Richard LaGravanese’s nonlinear narrative film, The Last Five Years,  we understand that a time jump happens -in the past and in the future-  by painting all over the sad scenes with intense dark gloomy colors, and with colorful bright shades on the happy ones.

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The same thing happens in Alejandro González Iñarritu’s Birdman, when the narrative is trying to tell apart the dream sequences, using yellow tones,  from the reality, with blue hues, only to mix them up by the very end when the character, and the movie, can’t tell the difference between Birdman and Riggan Thomson.

Notwithstanding, in Judd Apatow’s anti-rom-com-ish Netflix show, Love,  we see, in the first episode, our protagonist Gus buying  online a blue rug before breaking up with her girlfriend, only to discover the next day an orange one standing on his door. Right after this, Mickey bumps into his life using an orange blouse, and, from that very moment, we see both of them wearing clothes with all the possible variations of this colors all over the season, like a colorful dance of feelings.

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Something similar happens with Robin Wright’s character in House Of Cards, Claire. Whilst her wardrobe in the show consists in a wonderful variety of beautiful and elegant dresses, its colors oscillate between white and black depending on how dark or empathic she acts along each episode. So is natural to see her wearing a sober black dress while scheming a new plan with her husband to win over the white house in one scene, and using a white and delicate gown in bed with her lover in another.

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There’s even an interesting internet theory that develops on the ambivalency between the constant presence of  purple and yellow in How I Met Your Mother that suits very well within their narrative logic.

Color is, then, more than just a tool that could turn animated images into life.  Color, as it happens with feelings an sensations, is constantly attached to our perspective and our usual way of understanding life. We translate experiences that we paint with our minds.

Color is extremely important within any audiovisual story narrative. Whether a movie or a TV show is trying to communicate the very central core of its message using a beautiful color palette or accompanying a character quest between realms with only one shade, color will always be the perfect way to do so.

 

 

‘Love’ and gender politics: deconstructing the Nice Guy and the Crazy Bitch.

As I’ve thoroughly explained in old posts, TV shows have become an interesting, and substantial, platform to debate, and create, topics of interest within the young, and millennial, audiences nowadays, and gender politics hasn’t been the exception.

For those of us that grew on the nineties watching sitcoms (and, as in my case, telenovelas too) the stories we were used to see depicted most of the men and women like this immovable sexist stereotype, where woman can be called a ‘Crazy Bitch’ without any remorse whilst the typical ‘Nice Guy’ will often ended stuck in a relationship with this kind of person, hoping  that all her quirks and bits would save him from himself one day.

Same stereotypes that certain movies from the early millennium loved to strengthen in their stories. Films like (500) Days Of Summer, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, 10 Things I Hate About You and Elizabethtown that conveniently converted the Crazy Bitch into the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ and left the Nice Guy to indulge himself with her savior-ish complex.

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Thus, following this idea, for every Tom there’s a Summer waiting to break his heart over and over again, until Autumn arrives. For every Joel there’s a Clementine hoping to meet him again to re-enter the obsessive cycle they’re in. For every Patrick there’s a Kat wiling to enlist everything she loves about him in spite of her beliefs. For every Drew there’s a Claire awaiting to save him from suicide with the magic of an intricate map and a red hat.

You see, these stories told million of persons, for a long time, that a Nice Guy will always be that anxious, shy, type of person that, by the simple fact of being nice, is entitled to every girl he has crossed upon his life, and that the Crazy Bitch (A.K.A The Manic Pixie Dream Girl) will ever be that odd, tempered, quirky, lost soul that somehow, sometime, will eventually end up dating a Nice Guy. Yikes.

In recent years, this well-crafted and static ideas have changed. Some films, like Ruby Sparks, have engaged interesting debates around gender politics by making overhauling deconstructions of sexist stereotypes within creative tropes and vivid narratives. Ruby Sparks (the character) is written by Calvin (the Nice Guy)  to be (literally and metaphorically) the Crazy Bitch that’s gonna save him from himself. As we all know, things don’t end quite well.

Some TV Shows like Love, the  new Judd Apatow Netflix dramedy, really managed to put the finger right on the gender politics debate by developing a story, full of cliches and tropes found on traditional rom-coms, that falls right into an elaborate and well-thought deconstruction of their protagonists, who happen to be a Nice Guy and a Crazy Bitch.

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Gus is  an anxious, insecure geek guy whose major trait, which he can be proud of, is his niceness that he gawkily shows off to everyone he can. Mickey, on the other hand, is a self-absorbed, tactless addict who has no interest in anything on particular. They both meet thanks to a twist of fate and, immediately, embark  on a new adventure together. The typical boy-meets-girl story.

When they are together, or with any other people for that matter, they’re perfect showing their best facade: he is nice, she is blunt. He goes around rubbing into people’s faces that he is rather solicitous whilst she is indifferent to anything and anyone; the perfect sexist stereotypes.

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Thanks to the fabulous narrative tool of portraying each others lives individually (they spend more time by themselves than together) the creators allow themselves to deconstruct, and reconstruct, this stereotypes to their core to help us understand the true meaning of both ideas.

As it turns out, Gus’ niceness is not that nice at all, and his kindness quickly transforms into hostility. He’s so convinced that he is such a good person that he thinks he deserves a great life, with the perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl to go with it. He sees that life with Mickey and immediately idealizes her as that free-spirited girl who came into his life to give it some meaning, but when Mickey doesn’t give him that in return, all hell breaks loose.

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Yes, Mickey is a troubled person, with her own complicated stuff to deal with, but that doesn’t mean that her only goal in life is to look for someone who can solve her problems and instantly make them go away, even if a Nice Guy might seem the perfect choice to do so. She’s also an addict, and she needs to be with someone that fulfills her needs whilst helping her to recognize them. She is not a trophy or an ideal of a woman. She is who she is, nothing more, nothing less.

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He can call her crazy as many times he wants to and still she will not be the Crazy Bitch he imagines she is. She can look for that Nice Guy who can be the wonderful exception on her love life and still feel empty and undesired. Relationships are hard, and people can get lost between the idea they have of a person and the actual person that’s in front of them.

That’s what stereotypes do. They erase every trait, feature and bit that makes a person unique and, somehow, manages to put everyone that shares something (anything, really) inside a box with blurry limits and a bunch of heavy prejudices to live by.

The Nice Guy and the Crazy Bitch exists only inside our minds. In the real world people are much more complex than that. We are not our gender, and our gender does not defines us. We can be nice, crazy, depressive, manic, happy and sad and still not want to be a part of any stereotype. We should, and we must, deconstruct the stereotypes that surround us in order to understand the way paradigms in gender politics  affect us and how do they work.