Thursday, July 23, 2009

Final blog

Woody Allen and Joseph Losey are both renowned filmmakers, who each have a distinctive style all their own. One uses humor and the other use melodrama to portray different stories with themes of sexuality, satire and human relationships. Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Modesty Blaise are two very different genres of films but both are funny have an interesting use of satire.

Woody Allen has created a unique genre all his own a mixture of drama and screwball comedies that formulates into his distinctive style. He captivates his audience by integrating intellectual ideas and real-life scenarios into a film using the channels of human instinctual drives for lust, love and happiness (Philaretou). In the film Vicky Christina Barcelona, a tale of young naïve beautiful ladies on the trip to Barcelona for the summer and meets an attractive Spanish man named Juan Antonio, whom they both have an affair with. Vicky is practical and traditional and Christina is spontaneous and is unsure of what she wants from life or love. Both women discover through this moral journey of their emotions of love, and lust that love is what you make it out to be. The film looks into these two women who are very different, their sexual momentum and self-identification from “falling in love.”

Allen creates his movies into very real scenarios with issues of sexuality very present in Vicky Christina Barcelona. Allen likes to break down barriers of sexual tension “through sexual satire…audiences are enabled to unmask the private, embarrassing, shameful, and forbidden areas of their sexual lives, thereby becoming better able to come to terms with their sexuality in a relaxed, nonthreatening matter (Philartou).” There are women out there who would be offended if a man like Juan Antonia asked them if they would like to join him ménage trios. Vicky was extremely insulted when Juan Antonia asked such a preposterous proposition to them. However, Christina was interested and curious in the sexual offer. It is funny to see how these two American women deal with a European man in the search for the meaning of life, love and passion.

Vicky and Christina are two innocent American’s who find themselves in a situation with a handsome stranger they are not used to. In the movie the phrase being “European” was like being sexually liberated, like when Christina confesses that she Juan Antonio and Maria Elena were in a relationship. There is this idea that European are more sexually opened, and it might be true. Allen also plays with that idea especially when it comes to the attitudes of Vicky and her fiancé Doug. Doug is very portrayed as very New York American and he disapproves of Christina very European relationship. Vicky is someone who could never imagined herself having an affair with a Spanish man when she is engaged, however at the end of the films no longer can deny her feelings and confesses them Juan Antonio.

Allen films present a dialectical method “to the study of human sexuality as good and bad, humorous and dramatic, lustful and emotional, fearful and fearless, fulfilling and frustrating (Philartou).” Allen utilizes the deconstruction and reconstruction of traditional gender roles awakens the audience of the historical, social and cultural influences that compel “human affairs as well as the vicissitudes, ambiguity, and melodramatic nature of human sexuality (Philartou).” Vicky and Christina return home, Vicky returns to her married life with Doug, and Christina remains where she started unsure of life and love. Allen attempts to provoke in his audience that things are simply, simplicity of emotions, love and affection.

Joseph Losey might not have the same sense of humor as Woody Allen but he is still a prominent filmmaker with an eclectic collection of movies. He is know as a very controversial figure even today as his films or regularly taught in cinema study classes (Callahan). Losey liked to find depth in even the most absurd situation and used liked spotlight on the human relationship (Callahan). There were dominant themes in Losey’s work, such as emotional instability, emotional and physical violence and perverse sexual power plays. He liked to put unconventional love stories in his films (Callahan). Instead of talking about Losey’s most beautiful films I want to discuss his most underestimated and sometimes called the “worst movie of all time,” the 1966 spy movie Modesty Blaise.

Timing is very important in a release of film, and Modestly Blaise was ahead of its time. It set in the “Swinging London and the whole movie is in a modish camp style. Modish camp means it had “bright colors, lurid colors, surreal plotting, trendy star, kinky sex and funny violence, and spy joke jammed to its fills with pop music, bizarre gadgetry, and self-parody, all wrapped up in the rule-breaking technique to which the French New Wave had by 1966 (Richards).” The film is uncharacteristically a Losey film in story line and “essential lightheartedness,” but the film still deals with real issues that are still with us today (Richard). The movie is filled with forgettable story lines, weird jokes, fast paced mise-en-scene, ridiculous fighting scenes and exuberant surrealism.

The movie is satire on the other secret agent movies of the 60’s for example James Bond. The movie reminded me of Get Smart the television show and also Mike Meyers Austin Power even more. Both movies had weird, preposterous and had unusual scenes where things don’t seem to make sense tended to happen. In Modesty Blaise you would notice that her hair color would change randomly and also her clothing color would also change. They both also have weird gadgets that come out from obscure places, and would also have random bursts of song and dance.

Losey plays with sex and sex gender roles in Modestly Blaise. There are few scenes in the movie where we see Willy in bed with different beautiful women. However, we can’t deny the sexual tension between Willy and Modesty. Willy is very subservient to Modesty and calls her Princes, and is always willing to help here when she needs him. There is also an odd relationship with the villain of the movie Gabriel and the extremely tough Clara Fothergill. She is tough and fights, and Gabriel seems to have more flamboyant character. Although completely straight in sexual preference he is always so well groomed, with his funny cocktails and pastel color umbrellas. There is a scene when MCWhirter asks Gabriel, “Do you ever wonder about MR. Fathergill?” and Grabriel’s reply is matter-of-fact “I am Mr. Fothergill (Richard).” Losey play on sex gender roles is an interesting one. Another example is how Abu Tayir likes to call Modesty his son, when she is clearly a woman. It shows very sexist attitudes of society.

One of the issues of the 60’s and an important issues addressed in the Modesty Blaise is oil. The music sings “Ice….gimme ice, man…real ice,” while the sun is blazing down on the oil, and you see small children looking impoverished and hungry playing by the oil. At the end of the movie it definitely takes a different turn, and more serious turn.

Losey’s film was uncharacteristic for him, however is a very brilliant piece of work no matter what critics might say. Woody Allen always creates funny movies with great sense of humor and satire. Both directors liked to create more than movies and they did with Vicky Christina Barcelona and Modesty Blaise, they both liked to dive into the complexities of the human relationship and breaking of social rules and norms.

Callahan, Dan (2003). Joseph Losey. New York,

Philaretou, Andreas. (Spring 2006). Learning and Laughing about Gender and Sexuality through Humor: The Woody Allen Case. Journal of Men’s Studies. Harriman, Vol. 14, Iss. 2; pg. 133.

Richards, Peter (Jul 1995). ‘ Real ice , man’: Joseph Losey’s Modesty Blaise. New York. Vol 31, Iss. 4; pg 60.

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