Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

This is the female gaze like you’ve never seen it before. "Portrait"--a film set in Brittany, France in the 18th century--is a showcase of how the depths of insight and poignancy in a work of art comes as a result of the artist having a deep, loving, obsessive understanding of their subject. It is a film about two women on an island with hardly anyone else around them and the painfully, yet deliciously slow romance that materializes from a connection of their minds, bodies, and souls. The film is thematically rich and daring, yet never once seeks to shove a message or agenda down your throat; it’s a love story, plain and simple. Writer/director Céline Sciamma clearly isn’t interested in subverting history in an effort to appease the needs of a contemporary audience--yet in spite of that, this is a film brimming with human truths. It is reminiscent of the underpinnings and themes found Greek and Gothic literature and poetry. Tender, yet complex and multifaceted--this is in no way a political film, but rather, a subtle social commentary on the kinds of job opportunities available to women in the 18th century.

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Review: The Dark Red

A social worker happens upon a trailer home. In it she finds a dead woman who has presumably overdosed; her body is surrounded by various pill bottles and a half-consumed NyQuil. The social worker explores the home and finds a young girl in a wooden chest. This is a chilling start to a tale which portrays grief and guilt in such an engaging and fresh way. Although flawed in structure, it succeeds in delivering the hysterical mother trope in ways which are fresh, exciting, and haunting. "The Deep Red" demonstrates, vividly, that some clichés deserve to be demolished and rebuilt; that in a more adventurous movie environment undercutting these tropes wouldn’t feel as fresh as it does here.

Booksmart Censorship Controversy: The Prejudiced Censorship of the Human Experience

It was disheartening to read that a butchered version of one of this year’s best films, "Booksmart", was shown on Delta’s aeroplanes. It was reported that “A version of the coming-of-age comedy that is being shown on Delta doesn't include a hookup scene between two teenage girls and eliminates references to female sexuality.” Thankfully, Delta has recognized the problem and is now making the film available in its entirety. This whole story must be discussed as it says some telling things about prejudices and biases that, sadly, are still present today.

31 Days of Horror, Day 29: The Babadook

"The Babadook" is the type of horror flick I love; one where the threat — in this case, the monster — works as both an internal and external threat. The unique creature design is simultaneously whimsical and menacing. Think, the hybrid that one would get if they were to describe Nosferatu to a child and have that child illustrate the description.

Halloween H20: Laurie Strode, the OG Scream Queen Getting Even this Halloween

It is tragic that this year’s Halloween season has seen barely any worthwhile horror shaking up the box office. Sure, Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” is being released here and there, but if what I’ve seen on #FilmTwitter is anything to go by, the film is still quite inaccessible to quite a substantial amount of people. So, if like me, you’re spending your Halloween on the couch of a friend’s house, with some pumpkin spice--allow me to suggest you revisit Steve Miner's "Halloween: H20".

Only two (arguably three) of the six “Halloween” films released prior to this are worthy of a recommendation. This film--set 20 years after the events of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) barely escaping the hospital with her life on that fateful Halloween night--seems to have capitalized on the cultural zeitgeist of the “Scream” films (also worthy of a Halloween slasher binge).

“Wounds” Analysis: Attempting to Find Meaning in Filth

“Wounds” is Babak Anvari’s latest film--he is a British-Iranian filmmaker best known for his directorial debut in 2017 with the brilliant “Under the Shadow”. Here, he takes the same cultural critique approach of that film and uses that framework to critique millennials. “Wounds” is based on Nathan Ballingrud’s novella, “The Visible Filth”--which I haven’t read, but if the conclusions this film draws are similar to those of the source material, then by god, I want it on my kindle NOW.

Joker Film Analysis: Sympathy For A Psychopath?

A piece of art’s problematic-ness is subjective to the viewer who consumes the art; there is no definite arbiter--or way of deciding--just what kinds of art are inherently, objectively problematic. Only the individual can deem something to be problematic. If certain individuals agree with others, a mass of individuals with like-minds (and nuanced values) come together, then we have a basic form of society.

Some things register as problematic because it goes against culture--or the ideas of a particular social group. To suggest that something is problematic because society or culture deems it so would be like suggesting that something is okay just because certain cultures deem it to be so, but I digress.

Short Film Review: Unholy ‘Mole (Satanic Spread)

"Unholy 'Mole" is a dementedly creepy and thoroughly hilarious body-horror gross-out comedy, which plays like a parody of toxic masculinity. It is quite the treat. Directed by David Bornstein; this is a short film is about a selfish man who sells his unborn son’s soul to Satan and in exchange for having his pregnant wife make guacamole for him; and oh boy does she.

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