6. Before Sunset (2004); What if you had a second chance with the one that got away?

Before Sunset

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

I loved the whole concept of making a sequel to Before Sunrise. The story that they added along to the first wasn’t as interesting, but it was still really entertaining. Their conversations are so deep and intellectual that it makes all other conversations seem materialistic and lazy. I love it.

So, here’s a summary- Nine years later, Jesse is finishing up his international book tour and runs into Celine right after his last interview. They are forced into the same time-crunch as before, but still decide to up and walk around Paris together. At first their conversations are pretty boring, but as the movie continues, the character’s real emotions and feelings come out.

There are three interviewers that are asking him questions and I think by having those interviewers, it was a great way to remind the audience about their initial thoughts towards the ending of Before Sunrise. The three interviewers represent the three possible endings of Jesse and Celine’s first meeting. There was the romantic that was convinced that the characters meet up and live happily ever after (Jesse and Celine really do meet up); The cynic that doesn’t think they ever meet up again (Neither show up ); And the middle-man who wants them to meet up but is doubtful about the whole situation (One of them shows and the other doesn’t). I thought this was a great way to leave the audience hanging until the two characters discuss it later in the film.

I have to say that I didn't really like Celine in this movie, as comparison to the first. In Before Sunrise, she seemed more independent and not as “girly” about everything. She was kind of tough and to the point. In Before Sunset, she seemed to dance about the subject a little and not be so straightforward. For example, the two of them discuss whether or not they had made love on their first night, and instead of admitting that she remembers (like she does a few minutes after) she pretends that she doesn’t remember. For being a character based on “living in the moment”, I thought that was a bad way to show it. That conversation just made her look insecure. I just didn’t understand that whole part. However, she exclaims to Jesse later that reading his book brought back all kinds of feelings and emotions that she couldn’t really explain. I thought her “break down” was more her original character- saying exactly what she felt. Don’t get me wrong, I love her character and all the crazy ideas that she had in her head, but I just wanted a little bit more consistency. But then again, people may change a lot over nine years.

I mentioned something about the wardrobe in the Before Sunrise entry, but I will mention it again about Before Sunset. What was the casting department thinking?! I can’t believe that they would go through the entire ordeal of making this movie and not give Ethan Hawke a BELT!? It made his character look uncomfortable as a professional and just plain dumb. I thought that Julie Deply looked beautiful, but…really? I tucked in patterned shirt without a belt?! Grr.

I thought this movie was pretty good. I definitely like Before Sunrise more, but putting both films together, I thought it was really awesome.

On the Becki Scale- I give it a 4.

*Oh, another thing- I didn't notice until I saw this film that the scenes shown in the opening credits are the places that the two characters go to throughout the movie. Duh. Pretty sweet idea though.


5. Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy

Best Director, Silver Berlin Bear, Berlin International Film Festival

*Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke were nominated for Best Kiss in the 1995 MTV Awards

This movie was awesome. Totally in love with it.

Jesse, an American tourist, is traveling though Vienna and on the train meets Celine, a French graduate student. After some conversation, the both of them sense a deep connection to the other and decide to spend the rest of the day/night walking around Vienna. After learning everything about each other, they are forced to part after only one night.

While the entire story is based around these two character’s getting to know each other, the dialogue is obviously an important part. Their subjects seemed to change just as normal conversations would. The setting in which they spoke was also really important though. One of my favorite scenes towards the end of the movie was when they were sitting in a restaurant pretending to speak to their friends on the phone. It was a great way to show the audience what the two of them were thinking and feeing. Normally, I think screenwriters show the character’s motivation and emotions towards things through conversations or actions with other characters in the story, but in this film, there really wasn’t any other way. Another one of my favorite scenes was when they were playing pinball in the bar. It seemed like a great way to shift attention back and forth between the two characters.

Both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy did such amazing jobs in this film. Their conversations were portrayed so well and flowed so easily that I forgot I was watching a movie. I was completely wrapped up in both of their stories. Their on-screen chemistry seemed flawless and at some points I swear I could actually feel their tension. I bet they became really good friends during this movie- lots of rehearsing!

Did anyone else notice that he changed his sweater in the beginning of the movie? She had the same dress on but he changed from a red sweater to a t-shirt and jacket after getting off the train. I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation behind this, but it bugged me throughout the entire movie. Also, I forgot that people can leave luggage and bags in lockers or containers at train stations. I was wondering where all his bags were until the very end when he magically got them back.

I am now a fan of Ethan Hawke. Like I said before, I think in the real world he is a little to cocky, but after this movie and Reality Bites I think he really is pretty talented. I would love to see a few more of his films!

I wish that I could have seen this movie before I knew that Before Sunset was created. I think that like I would feel a little different towards Before Sunrise, had I thought that the end truly was the end. I guess I need to watch Before Sunset now… : )

On the Becki Scale- I give it an 8.


4. Reality Bites (1994); Life is always funny when it happens to someone else.

Reality Bites

Directed by Ben Stiller

Starring Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, and Ben Stiller

First of all, let me mention that this movie has two taglines: “Life is always funny when it happens to someone else” and “A comedy about love in the 90’s.” Thought it was interesting that they couldn’t pick one. Maybe that’s a normal thing to have two taglines…. What do I know? Though, I have to say that I probably wouldn’t describe this film as a comedy. Is that their point? That life in the 90’s was dramatic? That it was funny that life in the 90’s is actually very dramatic but that’s what people thought was funny?

Reality Bites is a drama about four college graduates and how they each are dealing with life right after school. Winona Ryder plays Lelaina, the valedictorian of her graduating class who is interested in entering the entertainment industry through means of a documentary. The documentary follows her and three friends through the first ups and downs of life in the real world. Her best friend Troy (Ethan Hawke) is a failing musician and an extreme pessimist. Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) is worried about how her over-sexual lifestyle is going to affect the results of her recent AIDS tests, while Sammy (Steve Zahn) is coming to terms with his homosexuality. Lelaina meets Michael (Ben Stiller) who is an executive in the reality television industry and tries to help her by convincing his company to adopt her documentary. But while Lelaina grows feelings for Michael, she can’t ignore the distant emotions still felt towards Troy.

This movie basically just attacks human values and the way that different people deal with stress. The possession of money is the easiest way to distinguish some of the debating values between two opposite characters, like those shown between Troy and Michael. Lelaina is forced to choose between living a life based on materialistic values or philosophical insight. With Michael, it’s all about “making money” and not truly about quality- the opposite of Troy. Very similar to the plot of The Notebook. Lon Hammond or Noah Calhoun?

I really enjoyed this quote from Troy in the film- “There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escaped. So I take pleasure in the details. You know, a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter becomes a cackle…. and I sit back and I smoke my pack of Camel Straights and ride my own melt.” This is the type of attitude that could make you feel like a strong and opinionated individual, but in reality, just makes you a lazy bum.

One of the main things that I liked about this film was the fact that the stories and feelings of each individual character actually seem realistic. I understand that’s the whole idea, but they really were very easy to relate to. Each character had their own sense of charm and charisma that separated them from each other but also helped expand the plot to connect with a bunch of different lifestyles that are most likely presented in the audiences that enjoyed it. While one character is dealing with their sexual lifestyle, the other is verbally tearing down the United States government or the overall American society. I just see those issues occurring in any clique.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was the style of the film. Shots from Lelaina’s documentary are shown as shots of the actual movie and I thought that was an interesting way to show that, while we aren’t seeing her film her friends all the time, she is still filming and creating her documentary.

Most of the time, I notice the wardrobe of characters in films. Color symbolism and different styles are an interesting way to decipher what’s about to happen in movies. In Reality Bites, I really only noticed one thing. Throughout the movie, Troy was dressed with more a sloppy look, plaids and jeans, t-shirts and shorts, but Michael was always in a suit or tie. This was obviously done to show the amount of money that each character owned, but also just to reiterate the fact that Michael was more materialistic and that Troy didn’t care. So, I thought it was interesting that the audience sees Lelaina send Michael away when he is dressed in casual attire, and choose Troy when he is dressed in a suit and tie.

Also, let me just add this- I love Winona Ryder. Ever since I saw Girl, Interrupted I have loved everything I’ve seen her in. Except Mermaid.

And this- Ethan Hawke seems like such a jerk, but I really liked his portrayal of Troy in this film. Thought he did a really good job. We liked him, but we hated him too. Perfect.

On the Becki Scale- I give it a 7.


3. La science des rêves (2006); Close your eyes. Open your heart.

The Science of Sleep

Written and directed by Michel Gondry

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg

Best Music Score 2007 (Cannes Film Festival);

Best Visual Design 2007 (Chloturdis Awards)

“In dreams, emotions are overwhelming.” Actually, I think this movie is overwhelming. It took me a while to finish this movie, but it took me even longer to write this entry.

The main concept in this movie is the comparison between dreams and reality. Everything in this film is somehow linked to that concept which then expands to affect some other aspect of the plot. It seems to be this big circle that it fit perfectly together to make one of the most interesting and though provoking movies that I have ever seen.

This story revolves around Stephane, a young and creative artist that left Mexico to move to Paris to be closer to his recently widowed mother. He lands a job at a calendar making company where he is picked on by his co-workers. He falls in love with his neighbor, Stephanie, who carries the same corky imagination and artistic talent. While trying to sort through the day-to-day, he focuses on his dreams and tries to understand them and how they relate to his reality.

This movie seems a bit backward. Most of the time, it’s the things experienced throughout the day that have an impact on your dreams that night. But in this film, it is Stephane’s dreams that influence what happens throughout the day. There is a strange link from his dreams to his real life that kind of has a pathological feel. For example, while having a conversation with Stephanie in the hallway, he stops and asks if he is dreaming. Most of the time, he has to “wake himself up” and differentiate actuality from his dreams. For another example, he was dreaming about slipping a note under Stephanie’s door, and after waking up, he sees that he actually did it. Kind of like sleep-walking. This disconnection simply adds to the many internal struggles that he is going through. While trying to come to terms with his mother’s relationships and the loss of his father, Stephane also is constantly struggling to understand the languages spoken around him. English, Spanish, and French are all languages spoken, sometimes in the same conversations. This just adds to Stephane’s problem of communication. His dialogue was very blunt and juvenile. It almost seemed that he had verbal diarrhea. While his conversations and general attitude seemed close to ignorance, he communicates his emotions through his dreams and his art.

The art used in this film is very unique. My favorite part was all of the cardboard pieces found in Stephane’s dream “office,” or his cardboard car. With art serving as Stephane’s escape, it also is an important link between him and Stephanie. The two of them create interesting scenes and pieces, most of them completely random. Another one of my favorite parts of the movie is when they turn on the kitchen sink and different colors of blue cellophane pour out like water.

The random mentioning of sex is an interesting aspect to the plot of this film. The actual art of sex isn’t portrayed, but comments and suggestions are made that definitely make it a constant topic. Stephane’s co-worker and friend, Guy, is the character that represents the normal male that is then compared to Stephane. Stephane is dealing with all the confusion in his life, and while doing so, he kind of escapes from being a macho man concerning himself with sex and shallow relationships and focuses on his art and unclear relationship with Stephanie. I still don’t really understand why all the sexual references are important to the plot. My only reasoning is that it furthers Stephane’s overall confusion with reality, while not really affecting his “dream-life” at all.

Another thing about his dreams becoming reality is how it affects his relationship with Stephanie. While he complains that the she is never in his dreams, it kind of parallels how he’s not really ready to be with her, or that she is not really ready to be with him. Once she actually appears in his dreams, they are able to talk out some of their issues in reality and hopefully figure them out together.

The use of stop-motion in this film is wonderful. I’m not sure if that statement is just because I have a deep love for stop-motion ANYTHING, but it makes all the art seem even more unique and specific to the minds of Stephane and Stephanie.

On the Becki scale, I give it a 6.