paranormal sightings

All posts tagged paranormal sightings

Psychics, Sadness and Mystery in Assayas’ Personal Shopper

Published April 6, 2017 by rmpixie

Personal Shopper (2016, 1 hr, 45 mins.)

 

It’s no surprise that death is devastating for those in mourning. Missing loved ones who have passed on comes in many forms but most of us would confidently say that faith (or lack thereof) aside, we don’t really know what happens to our soul after the physical body ends. In Personal Shopper, we see one woman’s struggle with the death of her twin brother and her belief in the afterlife. It brings to light deeper questions about life and death staged before the backdrop of Paris, the fashion world, and its trappings.

Maureen (Kristen Stewart) works for a self-centered celebrity and socialite Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten) as a personal shopper. Her job is to find the latest and greatest in high fashion and bring it back to her famous employer since her high profile makes it impossible to shop anonymously. Maureen has also recently lost her twin brother Lewis to a heart defect she also suffers from. His surviving partner Lara (Sigrid Bouaziz) wants to sell their house, but Maureen who is a medium, insists that Lewis will send her a sign from beyond, so she spends a few nights in his crumbling house waiting for him to appear. He was a medium like her, so her determination is fueled by his once stronger psychic abilities and their vow to make contact from the other side. When she does contact the spirit world, she also receives mysterious text messages topped off with an unexpected murder that stops her in her tracks. Maureen’s quest for answers becomes more confusing, leaving her in a state of shock and floundering for answers.

Kristin Stewart as Maureen waiting for a sign.

Personal Shopper is a horror, a film noir, a psychological thriller, and a ghost story. It is all of the above and none of the above at the same time, embracing and defying genre. Director Olivier Assayas created a film that’s in a class of its own using art, history and old school paranormal beliefs with 21st century technology and lifestyles to illustrate Maureen’s search for her brother’s spirit. It’s this artistic take that kept me riveted despite the slow burn pace.

Assayas captures Maureen’s loss well, and he also conveys the loneliness of this technological age we live in with Skype and smartphones being key methods with which she communicates. Even when she is with someone physically or electronically, she is separate, guarded, or unsure; from her shopping excursions to her Skype dates with her boyfriend. The smart phone as a thing of necessity in this day and age to stay tethered to this world also becomes an agent of isolation and intense paranoia when Maureen pleads with a nameless messenger behind the texts to reveal themselves.  Assayas takes a now commonplace device and gives it a more otherworldly, sinister presence.

Personal Shopper is also a lesson in how Maureen grieves. She throws herself into her work even though she flat out hates her fashionable job, but Paris is her main connection to her dead brother so she stays there as she waits for a ghostly sign, not ready to let go.  The world of fashion is a fleeting one; rarely delving deeply into the reality around it. Her psychic abilities seem to be stunted as she moves between posh shops in London and Paris to serve Kyra in this superficial arena. It shows how she herself seems like a spirit as she is lost between real life, the supernatural, the fashion world, and her uncertainty with what she believes and how she is perceived. Her only moment of self-awareness comes when the mysterious messenger asks her to do something forbidden, and she taps all too briefly into her desires in her confused and somewhat desperate state. It’s a strange moment in the film, but it makes sense as her character searches for a right fit, so to speak, in environments that while not hostile, aren’t hospitable to her either.

The look of the film is really beautiful. Yorick Le Saux, the cinematographer for Only Lovers Left Alive, does a wonderful job capturing the contrast of the dingy streets and stark sophistication of Paris. He is skilled at making the most of each setting, representing streetscapes and boutiques in their truest and most tangible forms. For anyone that has visited the City of Lights, you’ll feel nostalgic for its frenzied energy.

My only issue lies with the text messages and some of the ensuing actions asked of Maureen. While I really enjoyed these suspenseful interludes and there is definitely a point to them, they were problematic with some details that still remain unclear when the storyline makes a sharp turn. Stewart’s stellar performance as a tortured, uncertain and lost character written for her by Assayas, evokes a surprising amount of emotion that overshadows any inconsistencies in the narrative however, as you watch this poor soul wait for her brother to tell her something, anything as proof of an afterlife.

Personal Shopper is an artistic take on a ghost story and focuses on one woman’s uncertainty when mortality comes into question. See this film for it’s beautiful photography, a haunting performance from Stewart and an interesting albeit imperfect story about grief and the afterlife.

 

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Debunker’s Delight: Ghostly Goings-on

Published September 4, 2016 by rmpixie

 

Since I’ve mentally checked out the last few weeks, I thought I would do a post about more paranormal, weird stuff, and what better source to access that than good ol’ YouTube?

I’ve been a fan of paranormal investigative shows and re-enactments for a long time, due to the fact that I’ve been surrounded by believers all my life. Ghost stories from the old country, a family member who refuses to buy antiques, especially those made out of wood since natural materials are known to hold energy, and inklings that my childhood home had a tiny bit of activity has left me with a somewhat accepted view of the supernatural. While I’m not 100% sold, I’m certainly not putting myself in a position to deliberately and knowingly visit a haunted place. So I leave that to all the eager paranormal teams ready to put themselves in smelly, dank buildings in search of chatty ghosts. Most of the time I watch for the hopes of seeing a real ghost from the safety of my sofa, but often I just roll my eyes at the histrionics.   There have been a few things, however, I can’t quite explain that have been captured on film. The most recent comes from a new addition to the paranormal TV lineup, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

A lot of the shows are a lesson in frustration. From shrieking paranormal team members (see the long-running Most Haunted for some scares and giggles when host Yvette Fielding clutches her makeup artist and screams bloody murder when something, anything, happens), to shaky, grainy camera work, to pitch black shots that are impossible to decipher what’s going on.  I know these researchers put themselves in scary and sometimes dangerous positions, but the antics can make it less believable and more fodder for scoffing.

Some are better (or just more entertaining) than others, like Ghost Adventures. Led by Zak Bagans, this team of “ghost bros” travel the U.S. in the hopes of finding haunted activity in some of the most notorious locations. Aaron Goodwin, the team’s resident “Shaggy”, is often targeted by spirits, eliciting a “Duuuude!” and a “Whooooa!” when those spectres whisper his name. Nick Groff, who left the show in 2015, directed many episodes and was often the one that felt the physical effects of ghostly activity.

Groff now stars in his own paranormal sleuthing spectacular called Paranormal Lockdown, where he and Katrina Weidman (formerly of the TV show Paranormal State) stay locked in an allegedly haunted location to witness those on the other side. It’s here I saw something pretty hair-raising that I think will stump the staunchest skeptic. But before I get to the evidence, here are some YouTube videos of alleged paranormal activity caught on-you guessed it-blurry, shaky video! (add grains of salt here).

The U.K seems to corner the market with ghosts, so this fella who narrates for the U.K. site Top 5s not only has a nice accent, but has some cool historical info, and a piece on the Ghost Adventure dudes.

More “ghosts”…

 

…and this mysterious creatures video is interesting and hilarious at the same time, so it’s worth the 35 minutes. I believe in #20 because I worked for a cross between a  pterodactyl and Skeletor, so that ‘ish is real.  Also, #13, #12, #9, #8 (It’s a bear… or Black Phillip), #5 and #3 are just ridiculous.

 

 

I like this dude’s accent too.  Also, the ghosts…

 

And here’s another video from Top 5s:

 

Now for the pièce de resistance.  The full episode of Paranormal Lockdown that gave me the willies.  It’s the usual fare for most of the show, but I encourage you to watch the first bit for some interesting and disturbing history about this asylum.  If the suspense is killing you, head straight to the 36 minute mark to see the weirdness.

 

And here’s a bit of speculation about the actual sighting.  This dude actually gives you a good view of what they saw at the asylum, and he’s pretty stumped too!  What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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