Rewatching #ThreeColours and Other Films

Even before the lockdown, I’d started an extensive programme of film viewing with my older son. However, he is a bit of a stickler about his planning and is proving truculent about watching films which are not on his current list of ‘must watch in 2020’, even if they are classics or might be very much to his taste. So I end up watching and rewatching quite a lot of films on my own too.

One trilogy I am very glad I rewatched was Kieslowski’s Three Colourswhich arose quite spontaneously from a Twitter exchange with @jacquiwine and @messy_tony. Quite a few others joined in and we even created a hashtag with the British spelling #threecolours.

My favourite remains Blue, with its amazing music and such a poignant description of grief. I had forgotten details such as finding a nest of mice in the Paris flat, but I had remembered the scene where Julie trails the back of her hand against the rough stone wall and wounds herself. I found Olivier rather creepy and difficult to stomach this time round and wish Julie had chosen differently at the end. White continues to be difficult for me to watch, as I remember the lawless, difficult post-Communist years and feeling like a second-hand citizen in the West all too well. This time round I found it difficult to empathise at all with the Delpy character – she seemed like such a blank (perhaps deliberately so – the nail upon which Eastern Europe hangs all of their hopes, desires, ideals), while actor Zbigniew Zamachowski’s expressive eyes made me almost ready to forgive him even as he becomes as much of an asshole as his ex-wife. With Red, I was surprised that I’d forgotten it was set in Geneva – although at the time I had no connection to Geneva at all, so the location seemed less important and I just assumed it was France. The parallel storyline of Auguste and his personalised weather forecaster seemed almost a nuisance, despite its resonance upon the judge’s story, while the ending felt rather melodramatic and forced. I found the gradual unfolding of the prickly friendship between Valentine and the judge far more interesting, with Valentine being the most sympathetic (though not necessarily the most interesting) character in the whole trilogy. She is, after all, the only one who helps the recurring character of a frail, hunch-backed elderly person trying to push a bottle into the bottle-bank.

Another rewatch, this time with the boys, was the first series of The Wire (I watched it in fits and starts when it first came out, since I never had Sky or other paid for channels, so it felt quite fresh to me as well). The sense of hopelessness felt much more palpable to me now (or is it because I am older) and my favourite character remains Kima, although I might have annoyed my kids by exclaiming nearly every time I saw Dominic West or Idris Elba ‘Look how young they were back then!’

I have also resubscribed to Mubi and have enjoyed quite a few films there over the past month. The most noteworthy were Bong Joon-Ho’s stunning and moving Mother; Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love which is visually one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen (and a real tear-jerker); Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy, viscerally disturbing but very powerful, charismatic acting from the two main characters; and a 1950s gem from Japan Our Town, featuring a larger than life main character struggling with the modernisation of Japan after the war. Lest you think I’ve turned completely Asian, I was also impressed with Melville’s Army of Shadows about the French Resistance, where the violence is buried only slightly deeper below the surface than in the Korean films. The historical facts add more depth and gravitas to the noirish direction we’re used to from his gangster films. Lourdes by Jessica Hausner was full of tiny satirical details about miracle healings at the pilgrimage site of Lourdes and yet ultimately made you question your lack of faith, and the Polish film Idadirected by Pawel Pawlikowski, has a young would-be nun discovering her family’s Jewish origin and their fate during the war.


8 thoughts on “Rewatching #ThreeColours and Other Films”

  1. It sounds as though you’ve made the most of your extra viewing time, Marina Sofia. Interesting isn’t it, how we gravitate towards one or another film or type of film. And you’ve reminded me that I ought to get reacquainted with The Wire

    1. Sometimes I feel life is too short to rewatch TV series, but some of them are really worth it, especially if you missed large chunks of it. I hope to watch the full West Wing and Mad Men at some point… maybe when I retire!

  2. I’m so glad we decided to join together for a Three Colours re-watch. It was interesting to see the different responses, particularly the elements that have shifted in our perceptions over time. Like you, I felt very little sympathy for the Julie Delpy character and struggled to figure out how she ever fell into a relationship with Karol in the first place. You’re right to highlight expressive nature of his eyes – the vulnerability really comes through there.

    In the Mood for Love is in my all-time top ten, along with Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, Double Indemnity and Jules Dassin’s Rififi. Ida is excellent too – it still makes me gasp at a certain point, even though I know full well what’s going to happen during the film. I’ve been revisiting a few old favourites during the lockdown, the visual equivalent of comfort food if that makes any kind of sense. I might go back to Hitchcock at some point, possibly Rear Window and North by Northwest as I haven’t seen them for a while. We’ll see…

    1. I’m really glad you suggested it. Funny how you misremember things, isn’t it?
      I am fully on board with comfort films. Recently watched North by Northwest with my boys and they commented that it felt like the proto-James Bond films. Will get to Vertigo and Rear Window next. Rififi is wonderful, have to try and get hold of it. And it’s been ages since I saw a Billy Wilder film – Some Like It Hot is one of my top comfort films!

  3. Oldboy is a real favourite of mine. It’s been about 20 years since I watched the Three Colours trilogy but I still remember some scenes and images vividly.

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