Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Lake House: Revisited

Continued from the full review of the movie Lake House.
This movie is unique gem. It is deep. Deep in a very unique way. It is so because it requires you to accept it for what it is, for you to truly appreciate it. Analyzing it while watching it for the first time spoils the movie experience. Thinking about it after the movie only enhances the experience. It's like waiting for the other person to finish speaking before replying. An old custom we may have lost, in our desire to assert ourselves and our opinions.

The way the movie progresses is also unique. The movie's timeline is not chronological (that is, it follows the progression of time) nor is it sequential but in a way 'consequential' - it is a series of events that is affected by the result of the events shown before it. In that way, it is very interesting. Things happen within Alex's and Kate's realm of experience. The relationship develops through the series of events they both live through in their own seperate times. While similar movies that deal with twisted timelines like the Twelve Monkeys creates a loop, at the end, this movie breaks it. In the movie Twelve Monkeys starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, Bruce is set back in time to prevent a disaster. He soon realizes that he unwillingly plays a part in the formation of the disaster and at the end doesn't know whether he was sent back to prevent it or rather ensure things went the way they were supposed to, thereby creating a loop in the chronology of events. The Lake House ends with Kate breaking the loop. But wait, doesn't that cancel off what happens for most of the movie? Interesting though but really, it doesn't matter becuase it is their experience that they are living through. If you thought of things from the other people's point of view, it does get convoluted, especially for Alex's brother. But of course, the story isn't about him.
I have a theory that what Ben would say to Kate changes, that his brother Alex suddenly leaves on Valentine's Day 2006 and has not been heard since until the end of the movie. And like I said in the other post, if you could bend time and space, why not do it for love?
Critial of critics
I got online to read what other people are thinking about the movie and I read a lot reviews by the film critics. I don't do this much because I am very critical of critics. Some of the critics' reviews makes me mad because they didn't understand. They didn't even try to understand.. and yet they passed judgement. Is it fair to pass judgement on something you don't quite understand? Is it honest. If you are going to pass jugdement on something you don't understand, at least admit so.
I'll admit I may have missed some stuff but I think I got a good handle on the movie. It may not have been what the writer or director intended to convery but art has a way of becoming more than what is presented. So these are my takes on some of the confusion and critiques on the movie.

1. Why doesn't Kate (2006) just look Alex up on the Internet?
Let's say on the way to work, you meet someone at a park bench and strike up a conversation. You meet again, not necesarily the same day, but at the same bench and talk a bit more. This repeats itself a couple of times. You find yourself enjoying the converstation and later, the company, even if it was brief. What do you do next? Secretly follow that someone? Look them up to see they are who they say they are? If so, you do need help. Seriously. What if the other person did that to you? And you found out?
Kate and Alex did what most people would be doing, be polite. They enjoy the conversation, so why mess it up? Why mess up a good thing?

2. Why doesn't Alex make a move on Kate when met at her birthday party?
This is where Keanu's acting shines. The hesistation and uncertainty. The desire to connect (hence, mentioning the Jane Austen novel). He was not sure about dancing, Kate asked him for a dance. You see, Alex doesn't want just Kate. He wants 2006's Kate. 2004's Kate may not be ready or right for him. It not only has to be 'the right person' but also 'at the right time' for him. Also, I thought Alex would consider it rude, trying to steal someone's girlfriend.

3. Alex and Kate are shown talking or having a converstation across time. This is wrong?
Have a little imagination. Early the movies shows that it could be done literally, through short notes via the mail box. At times it is an abbreviation of sorts. Rather than being rigid and sticking to what is actually written on the notes, the story is told visually. Torwards the end, they know each other enought to be able to anticipate what the other would say and write their responses before hand. Some of these coversations, each side can stand on it's own but taken together they form a true converstation.
A circle of events

For those who are analyzing the movie logically, I am surprised that very few people picked the circular events that occur in the movie. This circle of events is key in their relationship. In fact, this where the impossibility of the story comes in, if you view time as a single strand or one series of events only. Let me recap.
  • Kate and Alex begin their correspondence after she returns to the lake house. Her return is prompted by her anguish in failing to save Alex (she didn't know who it was then). But at the end of the story, upon learning that Alex died at the accident at Dealey Plaza, it made Kate realize suddenly, just as she said earlier, that life can be over in a moment. She realizes that she has lost someone she holds dear permanently. This sense of loss, one that she has put at an arm's length away (being a doctor and all), becomes very real. For once, she feels the loss of a life. The realisation that she is not be able to talk to this person again made her realize what she really felt for him. So she sends him a message asking him to wait 2 years and not go and see her at Dealy Plaza. So, if Alex didn't met the accident and died, Kate wouldn't have gone back to the lake house and begun her correspondence. (Having said that, I think she would have gone back eventually so their meeting was.. a matter of time)
  • Kate's decision to move on with her life without Alex, prompts him to reasses his life and leads him to the decision to start Visionary Vanguard , a dream project he has with his brother. He leaves the lake house and rents it out to Kate (via her then boyfriend). She in turns falls in love with the house. Alex had to move out of the lake house for Kate to move in and appreciate it and later she would come back to it as a source of comfort. If she didn't set off the change, Alex wouldn't have left the lake house.
  • Following that, it was at Visionary Vanguard that Kate found out what happened to Alex. Alex had to leave the lake house to begin Visionart Vanguard. If he hadn't started Visionary Vanguard, Kate wouldn't have gone there and met Alex's borther and would have gone on thinking she could still meet Alex someday.
This movie can so offer much more. I wonder if there is a novel of the screenplay. It would be interesting to actually read some of the notes they pass. It would certainly add more depth to the story. Or perhaps I should take a lesson from the story, that sometimes it better to be longing for something rather than have it available right away.

Update: The movie is based on a Korean movie, "Il Mare".

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Lake House: When Romance Transcends Time

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reaves
Category: Romance

If you could find yourself talking to a person from the past, would you ask them to change the future? In this movie two people, Kate, a new doctor in Chicago and Alex, an architect returning to Chicago, communicate across time to find each other and themselves. Kate lives in 2006 while Alex is still in 2004. Their connection is a lake house that Kate used to live in and Alex is moving in, according to the narrative timeline. In real time, however, Alex will be moving out so that Kate can move in. An interesting thing about the movie is how the future affect the past. Things Kate mentions is puzzling at first to Alex but becomes clear when it is the result of his actions, she is describing.
One question people ask is, how do they accept what is happening to them, their way of communicating? I think, like most other things people accept, is that they don't think about it, they don't analyze it. It just is. After the initial confusion, they both settle in to the fact that they can communicate and that they like each other's letters. Both of them look forward to putting in the next message. There is a certain romanticism to letters. E-mail is ok but nothing beats putting pen to paper and the ability to take it and read it anywhere.
Like most other things.. it just is

What is it with Sandra Bullock, Chicago and romantic movies? A match made in heaven. The variety of roles that she has been trying in the past movies have almost come full circle. I am talking about the other Chicago movie, While You Were Sleeping. In both movies, she plays someone caught up in a situation that is out of her control but accepts it and makes the best of it. The characters are lonely women, stuck somewhere in their lives and not moving ahead or making more out of it. Like herself since she played Lucy, Sandra's Kate is more mature and has worked hard to get where she is. But like Sandra's Lucy in the other movie, she lacks a real emotional connection with the people around her.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

TV: Top Gear: Motoring Fun to the Max

Starring: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May
Category: Documentary (sort-of)

If I have a guilty sin, it might as well be cars. Great cars. You see, I was never into cars when I was young. No yellow Lamboghini Countach poster on my wall. No fascination with rpm or engine capacity or horsepower. Cars were just a way from point A to point B. That all changes when I started driving. Not satisfied with just driving with my cars, I began to appreciate the way it rolls at corners, when does it the engine really kick in and how far I get when I apply the brakes. I began to appreciate and enjoy driving.
Top Gear is basically a car review program. But rather just a dry review, it does so with panache and style like no other car program. The presenters are charismatic as the cars themselves, finding new ways of gaining our interest while educating us about the car. They are opinionated and are straight to the point. They are not afraid of hurting the car makers feelings, the same people who loan them the cars that they review. As proof, they recently won an Emmy, a "International" Emmy, but an no less an Emmy for Best Non-Scripted Entertainment Programme. Entertainment.
 The show, is anything but boring. There are the interesting presenters, the mysterious Stig test driver, segments with stars driving around their track and humor abound. They are versions being seen around the world but to fully appreciate the program, find the full hour UK version (hint-hint). The segments the international versions usually drop is the news segment where they talk about "the news" in the car industry. Or mock the news, to be more accurate. Another interesting segment that is usually chopped is the "Star in the reasonable priced car", where a star is put in a Suzuki Liana and goes around the same track that the other cars do.