Cementing Sofia Coppola’s position as the second woman in history to win ‘Best Director’ at Cannes Film Festival, The Beguiled is a stunning exploration of repressed female sexuality against the backdrop of the American Civil War. Based on Thomas Cullinan’s novel of the same name, Coppola’s adaptation differs significantly from Don Siegel’s 1971 version by choosing to displace men as its subject in favour of highlighting its female characters’ actions/reactions. Restrained and tentative in its approach, The Beguiled is an enthralling depiction of female sensibility placed under the strains of jealousy and betrayal.
After the death of her husband, the beautiful Elaine (Samantha Robinson) begins life anew as a witch in order to find the perfect man to love her. However; her potions and spells work too well, leaving a string of victims her—and she’s driven to the brink of insanity (and murder) when she eventually meets the man of her dreams.
Falsely labelled as an emulation of ’60s sexploitation horror films, The Love Witch (dir. Anna Biller) is a stunning tribute to the technicolour thrillers of the era with a delightfully feminist twist. It’s a richly authentic homage that manages to perfectly reflect the aesthetics of the period whilst using aspects of nudity, sex, and the Male Gaze, to explore the notion of female fantasy; which results in a sumptuous highlighting of everything that was great (stylistically) and an underlining of everything wrong with the sexploitation genre.
The second feature from director Mike Cahill, I Origins continues in the same vein of science-fiction mixed with strands of romance and drama as its predecessor, Another Earth (2011). And, despite the obvious similarities between the two (in their shared concerns with scientific exploration and notions of fate, amongst other things), I Origins stands alone in its ambitiously intriguing premise.
The film follows Dr Ian Gray (Michael Pitt), a molecular biologist engaged in mapping the evolution of the human eye, as a brief encounter with an exotic stranger named Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) changes the course of his life by confronting his scientific beliefs with spirituality. And, after a sudden end to their relationship, his research results in an astounding discovery that not only has serious ramifications for evolutionary theory, but forces him to reevaluate his position within the science-spirituality debate.
WARNING: Potential anorexia triggers.
I am 22. From age 8 I can remember thinking “I am fat.” I wasn’t. But because I could see people who were skinnier than me, and because diet culture exploded into the popular mainstream around that time, I inadvertently became conditioned to thinking that if I could see someone smaller than me, I must be ‘big’. The first time I threw out my lunch I was 10. I had read about an Olsen twin who lost weight because of anorexia. I didn’t know what this was, so I looked it up. Although the concept wasn’t fully graspable to my prepubescent brain, I understood enough to know that if I didn’t eat maybe I wouldn’t be what I deemed ‘fat’ (a dangerous word that I will come back to later). Little did I know that one Google search would lead me down a path that was…
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Given the high levels of anticipation in the run up to its release, and with only one (little seen) feature film under his belt, Barry Jenkins had a lot to prove with his film adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s 2003 play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue (2003). Luckily, the film is a triumphantly poignant and slow-burning drama; offering a stunning exploration of how perspectives of sexuality, masculinity, and race intersect and react with one another. Decidedly “low-key” in its initial approaches, and with a permanent undercurrent of raw emotional power, Moonlight is a deliciously vibrant study of black life in America that smacks of Romanticism. Continue reading “Thoughts On: Moonlight (2016)”
It’s always a risk when directors make sequels for films years after their original productions, and even more so when the director in question has never made a sequel before. Based on the third instalment of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting trilogy, T2 Trainspotting is Danny Boyle’s return to the feverish world of possibly the most iconic British film of the 1990s.
With a twenty year gap between the two films, it’s an admirable undertaking to attempt to emulate the frenetic pacing and trippy aesthetics of such a celebrated adaptation—especially given the varying success of its main actors in the aftermath of the original’s release. Despite this, T2 is nothing short of a spectacular continuation in its ability to use nostalgia efficiently to create enough references to tie itself to Trainspotting without sabotaging its chances of garnering a narrative of its own. Continue reading “Thoughts On: T2 Trainspotting”
An admirable attempt to place an unconventional twist on the traditional biopic, Jackie (Dir. Pablo Larraín) is a stunning film that aims to shed light on a largely (and surprisingly) under-explored public figure in recent American history. With a focus on Jackie Kennedy’s perspective of her husband’s assassination; the narrative centres itself around an interview scenario in which Jackie (Natalie Portman) recalls her memories of pinnacle moments in the aftermath of the shooting, with the result being a richly layered portrait of a woman intent on placing her emotions aside for the sake of preserving JFK’s presidential legacy.
Perhaps not the biopic many would have expected, Jackie manages to deviate from the preconceived ideas that attached themselves to a film involving content heavily associated with conspiracy theories and explicit violence (thanks to films like Oliver Stone’s JFK). Instead, what Larraín offers up is a tender film that shows preference for recreating its titular character’s famed poise and air of self control, rather than opting towards grand character revelations or messy autobiographical details, regardless of all its artistic license.
With a multitude of award nominations under its belt (including categories such as Best Lead Performance, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director in multiple award ceremonies), Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea is one of most well received films of the year so far. This is hardly surprising, given Lonergan’s reputation for crafting deeply intricate stories with layered plot-lines and his ability to write characters with a vibrancy that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Focusing on the themes of inescapable sorrow, personal redemption, and the affect lingering feelings of grief have on both a person’s relationship with themselves and other people; Manchester by the Sea is a deeply melancholic drama that explores whether or not escaping a troubled past is possible—as well as the problems that arise from juggling personal anguish with the burden of caring for others in times of mutual tragedy. Continue reading “Thoughts on: Manchester by the Sea (2016)”
After breaking records at the Golden Globes with an astonishing seven awards including Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Score; Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is one of the most lauded films of the year thus far. However, having received critique for its lack of diversity in its casting (given that its narrative centres around the jazz genre), as well as bold statements from both its cast and director about the film’s revitalisation of the movie-musical genre, it remains divided in its reception.