Tag Archives: art

“Pain, pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence. The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence.”

Tonight I watched ITV’s Perspectives: Under My Skin, a documentary lead by musician Emeli Sande about the life and art of Frida Kahlo. An artist I have often found intriguing, yet knew very little about. I had no idea Kahlo had suffered so greatly with poor health from a young age, her physical and emotional anguish illustrated symbolically in so many of her paintings.

Frida Kahlo photographed by Nickolas Muray, 1937

Renowned for her self-portraits, her work is certainly confessional, if not self-absorbed. Kahlo reasons with her spectators, explaining “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Who can argue with that? Clearly, I myself enjoy nothing more than learning about other people, from observing them to inventing them. However, whenever I produce my own work I can’t help but find glimmers of myself pattered throughout. It is unintentional but perhaps it is inevitable.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

One thing I’ve learnt from Kahlo is that truth provides a beautiful source for any art. Some truths are rooted so deep inside ourselves that they are impossible to share, even with our nearest and dearest. It could be that we are unable to articulate them, too strange to understand them ourselves. Emotions such as grief, desire, anger – they’re just words. They still have value but they only touch the surface. Kahlo’s self-discovery is an example of bravery and beauty.

Photos: Collectors Weekly and Artist Daily

“There are still faint glimmers of civilisation left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity…”

Today’s post is a tribute to Monsieur Gustave H. in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Ralph Fiennes dazzles as the deliciously camp protagonist in this film, addressing his fellow characters as “darling” or “my dear” throughout. Monsieur Gustave is the saccharine combination of being unashamedly vulgar whilst also representing the impeccably polite and hospitable nature of the early twentieth century Englishman. Whilst running The Grand Budapest Hotel he embodies the magnificent building, from its candy-pink palatial exterior to the affluent aristocracy inside.

I had the pleasure of watching this film last month during my birthday weekend spent in Leeds with friends. We were all horribly hungover, much more ‘drop’ than ‘shop’ as we sauntered around the crowded shopping centre, only to stumble across Leeds Trinity’s Everyman Cinema. It was a hangover haven, a little on the pricey side for a ticket but for the couple of quid extra it was completely worth it. Instead of the stiff and stained seating you find in most multiplexes, Everyman has armchairs with cushions and coffee tables to rest your glass of wine or slice of handmade pizza on. I was worried The Grand Budapest Hotel would be a little sickly-sweet for our delicate states but it was perfect.

Everyman Cinema Leeds

A feast for the eyes, Anderson wants his audience to be aware they are watching a film. Much like Tarantino, he opts for chapter titles to signal the different stages of the narrative. His frequent reminders somehow made it a more fun and imaginable experience. I hate it when somebody says ‘that would never happen’ when watching a film. My favourite film makers are the ones that approach it as an art form, they are creating something that is essentially artificial so why not create something incredible? The eccentricities of this film and its characters do slightly border on obscene at points, but the attention to detail regarding the film’s design and staging go down like a glass of champagne.

Tilda Swinton as Madame D.

Monsieur Gustave carries many of the best lines, most notably, as he stands over the corpse of Madame D. and says: “ You’re looking so well darling, you really are. I don’t know what sort of cream they put on you down at the morgue but, I want some.” Certainly, his flamboyance fits with the film’s overall aesthetic, but I like to imagine Monsieur Gustave appearing unexpectedly in an environment not quite up to The Grand Budapest’s standards. Offering a helping hand to Dame Judi Dench in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, swanning through the hallways of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, irritating a grumpy Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. He provides an old form of comedy and delivers it with style, unlike the subtle irony so often seen in today’s films.

Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H.

Ultimately, Monsier Gustave reminds us, albeit in a rather extreme way, of a European manner that was sadly lost after the war. It would be silly to hope this breed of funny-man makes a comeback, but it was lovely to see Anderson and Fiennes pull it off so well in this beautiful film.

Photos: Pure Bohemian, Premier Construction, ilovemovies and The Guardian