Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Thing That I Saw: Glimmer of Civilization in this Barbaric Slaughterhouse Edition

Taken from Wikipedia
On Monday night, I saw the Grand Budapest Hotel with my friend Laura. For those of you who are not in the know, the Grand Budapest Hotel is the newest movie directed by Wes Anderson, who, for me, is  undoubtedly one of the best directors of all time. I am a huuuuge fan of the trademark symmetry in all of his movies, his 60s/70s aesthetic, and his actors' repressed expressions. He often writes as well as directs his movies, and I have to say that I am in love with his writings as well. It is something that I've never really seen in anything else, book, film, or otherwise, before. It's so easy to get lost in his world where the characters at first glance seem incomprehensible and yet as the movie progresses they become more and more relatable and precious in the viewer's eyes. I am always speechless after watching his movies and more often than not I am left with a deep hollow in my chest because I didn't want the story to end yet. I mean I am the worst at seeing movies, I always check how much more time the movie has so I can finally breathe and not be anxious again, even though I actually love the movie (case in point: Pulp Fiction and Pursuit of Happyness)! I don't know, it's an issue. My point is that with Wes Anderson films, I don't get that at all. He's the one director whose work I could just enjoy and be emotionally involved in (all of the nostalgia) without giving me full-on anxiety.

Grand Budapest Hotel was not a disappointment. It is the story of the concierge, Gustave H., as told through the eyes of his protégé, Zero (Mr. Moustafa), to a man we simply know as "The Author," who then tells the story to us, the audience. I hope that made sense. But going deeper than the simple plot of the film, it is the story of loss and nostalgia. That feeling of hopelessness and defeat when you lose things that you can never get back. The idea of getting run over by time, not being able to catch up to the reality that things have changed. Basically, the usual Wes Anderson stuff. I think that's another reason why I love his films so much. Almost all of them has themes similar to the themes of Grand Budapest Hotel, and those are themes that I can connect and empathize with, because I've experienced them myself, and I guess so do all of the people who love and adore his work.

What I love about this movie in particular is the tone of inevitability in it. From the very beginning we are introduced to this rundown hotel that is miles away from the grand hotel featured in the movie poster. Instead of frivolity and extravagance it shows decay. And as the movie goes on you can't quite shake what you already know: that no matter what, this is going to be, at the least, a bitter sweet ending. And I just think that's really honest and I love it when films do that- when they extend from the immediate happy (or not) ending of the story. Because that's how life is.

Okay this turned out to be quite negative, and I really wasn't intending on it to be that way. Whatever. It's written now. Here it is. Thank you for reading.

-Danielle.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Socialising Is A Thing I Do Now

I haven't done an update post in what seems like a long while, so while lying in bed today thinking about studying but not actually getting up to do anything, I said to myself, why not write an update blogpost by way of procrastination? So here I am.

I've been quite a busy lass in the past five days or so, as is proven by the fact that from Saturday to Tuesday, and then again today, Thursday, I have spent some hours outside the house, either with friends or with my family! This may not be such a huge deal for you, but for a girl who rarely ever gets out of the house, it's as huge a deal as when Japan surrendered in September 2, 1945, ending World War Two. Let me walk you through those five slightly stressful days.

Saturday: I was invited to a party thrown by the Ossory Youth Club in honour of the people from Canary Islands who were staying in Ireland for a week. First "real" party I've been to! It was pretty tame, and had adult supervision throughout the night, and I was only allowed out for an hour, but still!
Sunday: Me and my family went to church, and then to the carboot sales. I bought new decorative pieces for my bedroom. We then went to McDonalds and I ate a Big Mac. We also swung by MacDonagh Junction, and I got amazing gold loafers from TK Maxx.
Monday: I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel with my friend and fellow Indie Movie Club member, Laura! I loved it, review coming soon.
Tuesday: I attended a meeting from 10.30 to 1 for the Comhairle na nÓg in my county. It was a very productive morning and I was surrounded with intelligent and goal-oriented people and I loved it. I went home for a short while, and then went out again that afternoon to a restaurant called Lemongrass with my friends in honour of a Spanish girl who went over to Ireland as a student last year, and has come back for a visit. After dinner we went to Kyteler's inn and had coffee/hot chocolate.
Thursday: Went with mom to get a travel card in the morning, and then went for brunch in The Courtyard in Macdonagh Junction.

Looking at this now it doesn't seem like I've done a lot. In fact, it only highlights the fact that I usually lead a pretty monotonous life inside my bedroom watching Daria. However, I did have a lot of fun over the past couple of days and I want to remember that. By the way, I'm on my Easter Break right now, I'm not just bunking off school for like four days straight. I wish.

-Danielle.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Thing I Saw: Listen To The Voice Of Reason Edition

About two weeks ago now, I saw a musical called Michael Collins in the Watergate Theater in Kilkenny, and because my name is Danielle Olavario, here is a very late review of that thing that I saw!

I saw this film largely because my History teacher was part of the chorus, and she offered to organize the booking of the tickets to see the show. And I am very glad she did. As a history lover and student, I love nearly every other aspect of history aside from Irish history. It may be because I was not born Irish and don't feel any connection whatsoever to this land's history, or may be because I just don't find it interesting at all, but I never really cared for it. However, seeing this show changed my view of Irish history completely.

Michael Collins is about, as you may have guessed it, Michael Collins. It focuses largely on the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, causing a split in the Dáil and giving birth to two of the most prominent parties in Irish politics today: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The musical also touches the love triangle between Kitty Kiernan, Michael Collins, and his best friend, Harry Boland. It is told largely through the eyes of one Joe Emmett, who was an avid supporter, and, as I saw it, a protégé of Michael Collins. The show also featured Éamon De Valera of course, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, and as I've already mentioned Kitty Kiernan, and Harry Boland. There was an element of a play within a play in the show as the WB Yeats narrative Cathleen Ni Houlihan is performed in extracts in parallel to the events of the musical itself. The ever-present albeit slightly creepy character of Mother Ireland was also featured in the show.

Seeing this musical was an incredibly emotional experience for me. It made me feel incredibly patriotic for Ireland, which, for me, is a huge deal because only five years ago I didn't have any connection to Ireland whatsoever. The acting, the costumes, the choreography, and of course, the music was so on-point and it made me feel so proud not only for the actors in the musical (some of whom I know), but also for Ireland. The excellent work of the people of the show gave me feelings of loyalty and allegiance for this country, which, if I am being honest, I've never really felt anywhere else. By the heart-breaking ending of the musical, I was in bits. It is an emotional and more personal take on the Irish history that I really only learned from my History textbook. It made the facts and statistics of a textbook become real and close to heart.

As well as that, the charismatic character of Michael Collins has to be recognized. I may or may not have developed a slight crush for a dead guy after seeing the show. I loved the song, "Voice of Reason," especially near the beginning of the musical when he was only starting to attract more followers. He is such an enigma, and if this adaptation of his character is in any way at all accurate to how he truly was when he was alive, then I see why the Irish people loved him so much. The "Voice of Reason" is also in one of my favorite scenes of the musical, the debate between the Pro-Treaty people, and the Anti-Treaty people. I especially loved it when Arthur Griffith stood up and said something along the lines of, "I don't aspire to be written as part of history, but if I am, I would like myself to be associated with the name "Michael Collins!" except more articulate and with a lot more emotion. There was also a line that The Big Fella (never knew he was called that!) said when he ran a little late for the ceremony to take down the british flag. The English officer says "You're seven minutes late, Mr. Collins." He replies, "You've kept us waiting 700 years. You can have your seven minutes."

On a very personal take, a lot of reflection came about from seeing the musical. In a few months, I will be getting my Irish citizenship, which means that whenever somebody asks me what my nationality is, I will have to start getting used to saying that I am Irish. For a few years now I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I was in this limbo where I'm not culturally updated with my own country and the only thing connecting me to the place I was born was the people in my life who lived there, and of course of the memories of growing up in my hometown. But at the same time I didn't really identify in being Irish either, although I spent five very formative years of my life adapting the culture, the traditions, and the language of this place. I suppose I am still in that limbo, and I guess will forever be in that limbo. My relationship with my own native country, the Philippines, is very complicated, and is something that I will have to talk about in another post. My point is... I don't know. I guess I don't really have a point, except that this musical brought about a lot of feelings in me, in regards to my roots and my connection to the world around me. So thank you, Kilkenny Musical Society, for giving me an existential crisis.

All joking and philosophical thoughts aside, needless to say I thought the musical was an incredible masterpiece. It reminded me a lot of Les Miserables, except, as I've said, closer and more intimate. I am incredibly sorry for the people who never got to see it, but if you ever get the chance, I strongly urge you to! It will not disappoint you. Five out of five.

The Big Fella, with Kitty Kiernan in the background