This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.

DID YOU READ

Cannes 08: Fernando Meirelles on “Blindness”

Posted by on

05152008_blindness1.jpgBy Erica Abeel

Take it as a sign of some general anxiety disorder gripping the planet, but Cannes 2008 kicked off on a distinctly somber note. In “Blindness,” the fest opener by Fernando Meirelles, civilization as we know it goes to hell and back when a group of urbanites in an unnamed city succumb to an epidemic of mysterious blindness. Only a character known as The Doctor’s Wife (Julianne Moore, in a powerful turn) remains immune to the malady. Finding herself a leader in a world of savagery and chaos, she helps forge a new form of community that takes the film to a happier place (cue Kumbaya on the soundtrack).

Based on the celebrated allegorical novel by José Saramago, the film displays the ability first demonstrated by Meirelles in “City of God” to choreograph large groups of beleaguered folks through explosive situations. He’s ably assisted by an international cast — who were coached by an expert in blindness — that also includes Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Alice Braga. In adapting this story, Meirelles confronted a daunting new task: finding an equivalent in cinema, the visual art par excellence, to convey the milky white sightlessness visited on his characters. Add to this the challenge of both bringing a human face to nameless characters who are generic stand-ins for humankind and striking a balance between gripping drama and the wider philosophical connotations of blindness intended by Saramago.

Whether or not Meirelles successfully met these challenges has been a hot topic of debate on the Croisette. I sat down to speak with the engaging, forthcoming filmmaker following the premiere of his film.

Part of “Blindness” was set in São Paulo — but how important was it to keep the city unidentified?

It was very important because it becomes, really, a generic story, a story about mankind. That’s why I chose a multinational cast. If we were to identify São Paulo, people would think it was a story about Brazil. But it’s about our common plight.

05152008_blindness3.jpgDid the actors mind not having a backstory for the characters?

Well, Gael had an interesting reaction. He said, I never think about the character’s past. I think about his desire, what my character wants. The film goes forward, so for me it doesn’t matter what’s behind. I start and I know what I want, and that’s what I think all the time. I love Gael’s performance as a bad guy.

How did you strike a balance between the allegorical aspect and the human drama?

The book suggests a film that’s very allegorical, like a fantasy outside of space, outside the world — especially in the Portuguese Saramago writes, a bit like Old English for you.

But I went in the opposite direction. I tried to do a very naturalistic film, to engage the audience, make them ask themselves, “What would I do if put in this situation? How would I react?” I tried for a more naturalistic register so people could identify — otherwise it would be a very cold film. It’s a hard film to get involved with, but it could be even harder.

Saramago feared some filmmaker would make a “zombie film” out of his book.

That was sort of a joke. We worked with the characters on the experience of being blind. It’s very well done and consistent — though a couple of the extras look like fakes…

Why doesn’t Julianne’s character take action sooner? Instead of just going through the rapes?

You know, it’s a cultural thing, that question. In the book there are two rapes and the third time she kills the guy. I show the film to British people, and in Canada and Brazil, and no one reacts that way. I show the film in the U.S. and the first thing people say is, “Why doesn’t she kill them, why doesn’t she attack them?” There are some moral dilemmas in this film that I love.

05152008_blindness2.jpgIn what larger sense, according to your film, is humanity blind?

Sometimes you don’t see the person next to you — like your wife. When you have a fight, it’s because you can’t see what the other person sees, so you disagree. You don’t see the same thing. There’s some blindness involved in most conflicts. And there’s a more obvious blindness — what happens in Sudan doesn’t affect us. Two weeks ago 35,000 people were dying from the cyclone there. We don’t want to see this thing. There’s blindness in all levels, from the personal to the larger. Even in ourselves — we don’t want to face ourselves, we find excuses. That’s what I like about this theme. Maybe we go blind to protect ourselves. I really think if you can look at the person next to you, it’s liberating. But we’re afraid. That’s what the story’s about — people who can’t see lose their humanity, and then they get it back. They’re able to create a family and love and respect each other. And they get their sight back. I think it’s a nice parable.

[Photos: Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo; Danny Glover; Gael García Bernal – “Blindness,” Miramax Films, 2008]

IFC_Portlandia-S8_best-of-skits_subaru-blog

Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

IFC_Portlandia-S8_pick-a-lane_subaru-blog

Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…