"I'd like to keep that particular piece of paper myself. I have a hunch it might turn out to be something pretty important. A document like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution...and my first report card at school"--Jed Leland (Joseph Cotten), Citizen Kane
While it's unlikely that this first blog will amount to anything 50 years from now when I'm 70, I like to think of this as a step forward for me as a girl who simply loves to talk about movies. You might already know me as Goodbye_Ruby_Tuesday at IMDb, but chances are if you've ever met me in person I was too awkward and shy to make conversation. I was not born to be a public speaker, and I communicate best through writing where I can edit, cut and take hours to think of a good comeback without suffering from a delayed reflex.
As you might've already guessed from the christened name of my blog, I love films and I plan to have this blog dedicated to my wondrous adventures in cinema. I won't bore you with a list of favorite films, but I love a good romance with couples who have real chemistry and have real problems that don't resemble plot devices, I love movies that are daring (I'd rather watch a failed Kubrick film than an exercise in mediocrity), I love great visuals in film since I'm also an amateur photographer, and above all I love films which believe in their characters; a director can make the most ridiculous plot twists and get away with it as long as he believes his alter egos are full and fascinating. This is why Douglas Sirk has films on the Criterion Edition and George Steven's films feel like antiques.
I could give you a long autobiography, but since I always feel like I relate more to myself through film, I'll offer the five film characters I most relate to:
Marnie Edgar, Marnie (1964, Alfred Hitchcock)
There are many Hitchcock women I relate to on some level, particularly his aloof blondes--I can possess the self-doubt of Alicia Huberman, the shy dependency of Mrs. De Winter, the need to be seen and understood like Judy Barton, and a recent May/December relationship evoked the uneven level of affection which Lisa Fremont gave to Jeff (why do men have such a hard time believing younger women can truly be content with them?). So why did I pick his most overtly troubled anti-heroine? I don't have a nutty repulsion to red ink and rain storms, and I'm certainly not a kleptomaniac. But the more I see Hitchcock's underrated masterpiece, the more I relate to Marnie, particularly her aloofness to men, which I blame as an inability to trust myself around most other people. This was so bad when I was 19 a family friend said about me (not knowing that I was eavesdropping on him), "She seems to have no interest in men." And unlike Hitchcock's other females, Marnie doesn't quite know how to relate to other people, not knowing how to reveal all her secrets to another person. She is the most unstable, lonely and unique of Hitchcockian women.
Lisa Berndle, Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948, Max Ophuls)
If Marnie represents me as a single woman, Lisa is me as a girl in love. Earlier this year I had a whirlwind romance with someone who was passing through the U.S. Among the many tender words said between us was that I most reminded him of Joan Fontaine, so I choose my favorite role and film of hers, in Max Ophuls' love letter to his beloved Vienna, music and romantic pain. Fontaine's Lisa, who waits eternally for a man who she doesn't deserve, isn't the sort of character many actresses would've wanted to play--she's no Hawksian Woman--but Fontaine makes Lisa's fidelity a strength, not a weakness. And in the end, it's nice to know that feminine strength is celebrated even as it becomes clear that like the backdrop of the train ride she and Stefan go on for a date (the best first date in cinema, bar none), the romance she wants to believe in is merely an illusion.
And circumstantially, this man I loved so dearly also disappeared from my life too quickly (about as quickly as he had entered it), promising that we would be together again soon, and like Lisa, I like writing long, self-confessional letters, even in this world of Facebook and emailing.
Marion, Der Himmel uber Berlin/Wings of Desire (1987 Wim Wenders)
Of all the characters in Wender's poetic film who suffer from an existential crisis, the beautiful trapeze artist Marion is the closest resembling, well, a human center--not to mention the "Earth Angel" the Penguins sang about back in 1954. A woman needing to be touched, (literally and figuratively) to be reminded of her gravity on Earth, whose desire will compel an angel to surrender eternity for her. As played with serenity by the late Solveig Dommartin (she was director Wim Wender's girlfriend at the time of filming), existential ache has never sounded more poetic. "Longing. Longing for a wave of love that would stir in me. That's what makes me clumsy. The absence of pleasure. Desire for love. Desire to love."
Robert "Bobby" Eroica Dupea, Five Easy Pieces (1970, Bob Rafelson)
The three previous characters reflected the mysterious desires of women, which is easy for me to relate to. As the confused, short-tempered and lonely drifter in Rafelson's beloved cult film, Bobby might be on the other side of the world, but he's still just as close to my heart, sort of the undeniable dark side of the moon. Quite simply, I understand Bobby's anger at being a lost traveler, out of fear that anything good will fall to pieces (an original draft of Carol Eastman's screenplay, which shapes Bobby's emotional wanderlust from the death of his beloved mother, makes his motives clearer). And it's the man's disappointment in himself to which I relate, and the fact that I seldom realize my full potential and go after what I want--and knowing what I want--that's my biggest obstacle in life right now. Luckily, at age 20 I still have a few good years ahead of me and a supportive family before I fully become the extent of Bobby's misfortunes and failures.
Consuela Castillo, Elegy (2008, Isabel Coixet)
Looking back on the women I chose (if "choose" is the right verb) for this list, it feels that most of their motives are bound by the men they love, and in turn, me being in a relationship last year, finding a stranger to trust with my body, has given me both perspective and illusion in the same spellbinding moments. Falling in love is the most beautiful and scary thing a person can ever do in life, and I have yet to see a film that personally captured my personal experience. Isabel Coixet's beautiful meditation of age and beauty comes pretty darn close, though, especially in its depiction of a May/December romance, which I myself was in, that older man are blind to the fact that they are loved for how they make women feel and not the youth or handsome features they only think they lack. I wish I could be as composed as Conseula (not to mention as exotically beautiful as actress Penelope Cruz--I'll have to settle for Veronica Lake and Liv Ullmann comparisons), and in fact there were many moments in which I found myself relating equally to the insecure older professor David Kapesh (played by Ben Kinglsley, one of his better recent performances), but her lovely, pure innocence and choosing to follow her scholarly ambitions over beauty (a key line which made me see myself in her is Kingsley's narration "She knows that she's beautiful but she isn't quite sure what to do with her beauty") makes her something of an alter ego to myself--not to mention proof that Penelope Cruz is capable of far more as an actress than casting directors and the media usually give her credit for.