All posts by Ryohei Ozaki

Elena: Grieving Memory

In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder outlines a myth concerning the origin of painting. A young woman, to preserve the memory of her departing lover, traces the outline of his shadow against a wall. While they are separated, the image will stand in his place; or more precisely, it will be forever linked to the woman’s memory of their relationship. That is to say, despite the illusion of permanence the image is fluid, inconstant, elusive.

Elena is the result of director Petra Costa’s exploration of memory through image, of the pains and joys of remembering something deeply intimate and yet just out of reach: the mind of a loved one. Part elegy, part essay, part documentary, and part missive, the premise is beautiful and the film has real moments of grace. Elena is difficult to categorize; but we don’t have to.

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The “Coming of Age” of Coming-of-Age Films

Why aren’t we seeing movies about growing up in the twenty first century? Has film lost its ability to convey a collective experience? How does film hold up in an age of television and Internet? Rebecca, Ryohei, and Parth ponder the fate of traditional coming-of-age films and where the genre might be headed in the future.

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Buffer Oscar Predictions

With the Oscars so close, the Buffer editors love nothing more than to debate the outcomes of each category. Here are our predictions for the winners of some of the top categories for this year’s Academy Awards.

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Nebraska: On Banality

Smug curmudgeonly older men are huddled around the TV set on plaid-upholstered armchairs that you know smell vaguely of musk. Beer is in hand and ranch-dip-and-accoutrements are within reach. The game is on and when they’re not falling asleep, the talk turns around the only thing these men seem to care about: cars. The camera, shooting from the television screen itself, perfectly frames this very American portrait. Nebraska takes the subject of everyday life seriously—you really get the sense they sit there like this every day.

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Real Love

Discomfort at the movies is an odd feeling. It evokes a mixture of eye-averting, leg-shifting, and some casual looking around at the other moviegoers to make sure you’re not the only one feeling this way. There was a lot of discomfort involved in watching Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche’s film that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this summer. The director shared the award with the two main actresses, Léa Seydoux, and Kechiche’s ingénue Adèle Exarchopoulos. Given the media hype around the explicit girl-on-girl sex in the film, in a few years we might remember it, unfortunately, simply as “that lesbian movie with the long (very long) sex scene.” But the discomfort I felt wasn’t at the sight of sex—after all, this is a European film—or with Kechiche’s objectifying male gaze which reduces cinematic sex to pornography. The realness of emotion that Kechiche captured and that the actresses beautifully portrayed is what had me squirming in my seat. Seydoux and Exarchopoulos were awarded for their acting, not their bodies.

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Frances Ha: “I want this one moment”

As a French major interested in film, I thought Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha would be great, just from the trailer—not only for its unusual monochrome aesthetic or music borrowed from the New Wave but also because the title character is broke and has no idea what she’s doing with her life. I thought I wanted a cinematic celebration of the all-too-familiar twenty-something existential crisis but realized that, with a growing sense of frustration throughout the movie, I’d like to grow out of it someday, too. Frances Ha explores a quest for fulfillment that resonates with a younger audience but offers us visual escape over thoughtful reflection, flat archetypes over compelling characters.

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