Monday, January 19, 2015

SPRING RHAPSODY (2004, Bill Mousoulis, Australia, 84min, A+25)

SPRING RHAPSODY (2004, Bill Mousoulis, Australia, 84min, A+25)

First of all I have to say that my English listening skill is very bad. There are many conversations in this film which I don’t understand, because the film is in English with no subtitles. So I apologize in advance if I understand anything wrongly.

What I think about this film:

1.What I like the most in this film is the comparison between the angel and the songwriter (Rachel). There are many things which link them together, such as:

1.1 Both of them take a bus, and seem to walk along some same streets. 

1.2 Both of them are interested in human beings. They observe human beings with curious and sympathetic eyes.

1.3 The angel intervenes in two characters’ lives to inspire them to make the right decision. But there is a strange editing in a particular scene. When the angel tries to make Claire decide to keep the baby, the next scene shows Rachel singing a song of hope in a venue, and the next scene shows Richard waking up after listening to some music.

What does this editing mean? Does Rachel really sing in a small concert? I don’t know. Does Richard listen to Rachel’s song? I don’t know. But in this film we see two characters singing in that venue—the angel and Rachel.

I’m not sure what this editing means. But it makes me feel that sometimes songwriters are like angels. Some good songwriters observe other human beings with curious, kind, and sympathetic eyes. They may want to understand how people in different cities live, how people in each profession live. And after they have been inspired by the lives of other human beings, they may write some good songs, and the songs can inspire some listeners to make the right decision in their lives.

The comparison between the angel and the songwriter is the thing which I haven’t found in other films before, so I like this idea very much. If the angel was just an angel in this film, I might have thought of it as just an idea borrowed from WINGS OF DESIRE. But when the angel is compared to the songwriter in this film, I think this is a very original idea.

2. There is a strange scene near the end of the film. It seems to show a female artist having trouble making her own work. So she decides to go outside, taking a bus, and looking at an unknown man in the bus.

What does this scene mean? I don’t know. But it makes me think about “how we should take inspirations from other human beings, especially ordinary people around us.”  If this female artist follows the path of the angel and Rachel, who are both interested in ordinary people around them, she might have some ideas to make her work successful.

Maybe that’s what another character in the film should do, too. There is a male novelist in the film who seems to have trouble finishing his novel after having written it for twelve years. This man seems to be too preoccupied with himself. If he looks around and talk to other people like Rachel, maybe it can help his work a lot.

The look of the female artist is also very interesting. I think she looks like the combination between Rachel and Claire. I’m not sure if this is intended or not. But I think it works. Because I think any songwriters (Rachel), novelists (Claire), or artists should sometimes take inspirations from ordinary people around them, and make good songs, novels or art works which give good inspirations back to their audience/readers.

And I think this is also what Bill Mousoulis does here and in other films of his. His films seem to be inspired by the lives of ordinary people, and give inspirations back to the audience.

The use of a new, unknown character near in the end of the film is also interesting, because it reminds me of the pianist who appears at the end of A NOCTURNE (2007, Bill Mousoulis). The pianist in that film is an unknown character who is not connected to any other characters in the film, too. But her presence at the end of A NOCTURNE seems to sum up some ideas in the film, like the presence of the female artist near the end of SPRING RHAPSODY.

3.One of the main characters here is of course the city of Melbourne. There are many scenes in this film which focus on ordinary people in the streets of Melbourne. The most impressive scene is the one which shows a mad man arguing with a group of anti-war activists.

I think the sound of the city is very much emphasized here in this film. Sometimes the sound of the city is so loud that I can’t hear what the characters are talking about. Hahaha.

I think the focus on the city of Melbourne here is an interesting way to adapt a kind of experimental/documentary films--the city symphony films—to use in a narrative film. I think Mousoulis has made many interesting “city symphony” films, such as CRAZY MOTHERFUCKER (1989), MELBOURNE ’89 (1989), FIT WATERS ’95 (1995), and HOLY LAND (1998). But these films are not traditional narratives. So it is interesting to see how one can employs what seems like a city symphony film in a narrative film like SPRING RHAPSODY.

4.The structure in SPRING RHAPSODY is also interesting, because the characters in this film seem not to relate to one another that much. Apart from the angel who intervenes in the lives of Claire and Richard, other characters seem not to know one another at all. And their lives are not similar. It is difficult for me to find some parallels or similarities between their lives, except the similarities between angel and Rachel, and the fact that all of them live in Melbourne.

So I think the structure of SPRING RHAPSODY seems very loose for me compared to most films.  The lives of the characters in SPRING RHAPSODY seem not to be confined by some obvious themes or plans. Their lives seem to be a little bit free. I mean there are many films which combine different stories like this, but the lives of the characters in most of these films seem to be governed by some obvious themes, such as in CRASH (2004, Paul Haggis), 71 FRAGMENTS OF A CHRONOLOGY OF CHANCE (1994, Michael Haneke), DOG DAYS (2001, Ulrich Seidl), or AM I BEAUTIFUL? (1998, Doris Dörrie). So I think it is interesting to see a film like SPRING RHAPSODY which combines different stories, but lets the lives of the characters to be a little bit free (I mean freer than the group I mentioned above).

This kind of loose structure reminds me of other two films I like very much: FREE RADICALS (2003, Barbara Albert) and LA VIE MODERNE (2000, Laurence Ferreira Barbosa), because I think the lives of the various characters in these two films are a little bit free, too.

5.However, I don’t mean that I prefer this structure more than the other one. I like both of them. I think each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses.

For the loose structure in SPRING RHAPSODY, I think somehow it might be the reason why I think the film is not “extremely powerful” for me. I mean I like the film very much, but it does not overwhelm me as much as BLUE NOTES (2006, Bill Mousoulis, A+30), which combines different stories, too. I’m not sure. I mean I know for sure that I like BLUE NOTES more than SPRING RHAPSODY, but I’m not sure what makes BLUE NOTES greater than SPRING RHAPSODY. But BLUE NOTES was made after SPRING RHAPSODY. So I guess Mousoulis might have learned something from the making of SPRING RHAPSODY, finding a way to improve it, and using that knowledge to make BLUE NOTES having a greater emotional impact than SPRING RHAPSODY.

6.After watching SPRING RHAPSODY, I asked myself if I have ever been inspired by some song lyrics or not? Yes, though not often. This is because I mostly listen to dance music without lyrics. But I think songs which give good inspirations for me include some (silly) pop songs like this. Hahaha

6.1 DAYS LIKE THIS – Sheena Easton

6.2 GREATEST LOVE OF ALL – Whitney Houston

6.3 HOLD ON – Wilson Phillips

6.4 YOU ARE THE UNIVERSE – Brand New Heavies

6.5 YOU LEARN – Alanis Morrissette

But what about other kinds of art? Are there things which act like the angel in SPRING RHAPSODY by influencing my decision in life? Yes, there are. I think these angelic things include:

6.6 The novel LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding
After reading this novel, I realized that sometimes I did something bad because I saw other friends did it and I thought that it was okay. I changed my behaviour after that.

6.7 The film L’ARGENT (1983, Robert Bresson)
Seeing this film makes me very afraid to do even small bad things. Because, who knows, some small bad things you make can affect other people like a chain reaction, and the bad effects might grow exponentially like in this film.

In conclusion, I like SPRING RHAPSODY very much, because of its loose structure, its focus on ordinary people, and its comparison between the angel and the songwriter, which makes me realize how we should take inspirations from ordinary people around us, and giving good inspirations back to other people, and it also makes me realize how we may be influenced by things around us—songs, novels, artworks, films—sometimes they can be the angel in our lives.

I also saw some short films by Bill Mousoulis, including:

(in chronological order)

1.DREAMS NEVER END (1983, A+30)
2.J.C.: THE JEWELLERY-CASE (1984, A+20)
3.PHYSICAL WORLD (1986, A+30)
4.FAITH (1987, A+25)
5.EMBRACE (1988, A+30)
8.MELBOURNE ’89 (1989, A+15)
9.HOW SOON IS NOW? (1990, A+20)
10.LOVE (1991, A+20)
11.FITS WATER ’95 (1995, A+15)
12.HOLY LAND (1998, A+15)

I wrote about A NOCTURNE (2007) here:

I wrote about WILD AND PRECIOUS (2012) here:

BLUE NOTES (2006) is one of my most favorite films I saw in 2012:

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